A thought-provoking novel about an attempted murder and its mystical outcome. Part mystery, part psychological drama about love, part depiction of the duality of human nature, of good and evil, of heterosexuality and bisexuality, part exploration of the making of a Christian mystic, Dear Dante simply defies easy categorization. Anthony Maulucci has compressed many layers into his well-wrought narrative and finely tuned characterizations. You must read it to understand the story and see how the many components are blended masterfully together.
The main narrator of Dear Dante is an English-born Italian named John, a professor of Medieval and Renaissance studies living in Tuscany and writing a book about Dante. A bi-sexual father in the midst of a marital and spiritual crisis, John has visions of Dante and Beatrice while listening to his former student’s story of a redemptive journey through a personal hell — the attempt to murder his lover’s husband and his struggle to choose between the two women in his life — that reawaken his creative energies and help bring about his spiritual renewal.
“This is a thoroughly enjoyable story of two men, each struggling to emerge from his individual darkness. One is at home in Tuscany, the other is in the midst of a pilrimage, with quite a tale to tell. A stop on the pilgrim’s extended journey brings him to the home of his old college professor who listens to a remarkable story. This is a profound experience for both men in very diffeent ways . . . They are deeply reformed by the telling and listening, and go forth to their own circumstances with a renewed outlook and clarity. . . Maulucci’s compelling writing style covers a broad range of emotions and relationships . . . He refines the style presented before in The Discovery of Luminous Being and Adriana’s Eyes. Characters deal with their families and associates in ways that are both realistic and fantastic. Among associations in Dear Dante is a tender description of one couple’s lovemaking ritual and a later gut-wrenching scene of the same woman’s reaction to learning her lover’s secret. This reader’s adrenaline was racing . . . Maulucci makes references to classic works in addition to Dante that may lead the reader to review the stories. This reader enjoyed them and how the inclusions enhanced this story. The cover art of Francesca and Paolo is most fitting.”
“In Dear Dante, his best work to date, Maulucci creates a worthy read . . . Great idea [that] makes for a good story.”
“DEAR DANTE . . . blows me away! It is a most incredible book…! I think it’s what’s known as a tour de force: there is so much in it. It’s very simple & very complex at the same time . . . Maulucci’s descriptive powers are magical! Many visions of pure visual /sensual delight. I had to reread passages over & over just for the beauty of it . . . The ability to create suspense on so many different levels — it is actually a ‘murder mystery’ — but the personal quest for love plot, the probing of eternal questions, moral responsibility, and the spiritual journey are so engrossing!”
— J. Oudin, Connecticut Librarian, review posted on Amazon.com (5 stars)
“A fascinating modern-day journey into the depths of sin, the possibility of redemption, and the attainment of salvation.”
“A gripping story with the right mix of the exotic and the esoteric.”
“The characters are brought to life in a way that will engage you . . . The ending will certainly satisfy you. What more could a reader desire?”