The Volcano Lover

  • by Susan Sontag
  • Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck
  • 14 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Volcano Lover follows the fortunes of a British ambassador, the ravishing woman he marries, and the young British admiral with whom she falls in love.
Set in 18th-century Naples and based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his celebrated wife Emma, and Lord Nelson, the novel is peopled with many of the great figures of the day. This unconventional, best-selling historical romance from the National Book Award-winning author of In America touches on themes of sex and revolution, the fate of nature, art and the collector's obsessions, and, above all, love.

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What the Critics Say

"A panoramic, passionately feminist examination of the changing shape of Western civilisation since the Age of Enlightenment. Sontag's book is a sweeping, exquisitely detailed picture of Europe in the final decades of the eighteenth century." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"The Volcano Lover is a great novel. It repeatedly scales heights of complex thought, passion and expression that few American writers ever approach, while reimagining a majestic love story in dazzling style." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Hardly digressions, Sontag's many aesthetic speculations wonderfully enhance the plot. A fine novel of ideas, this is sure to please venturesome readers of historical romance as well." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Splendid Prose

What made the experience of listening to The Volcano Lover the most enjoyable?

This is a fine novel and the author has reveals a good understanding of the time and place of the novel. This being no greater than many classical novels. What stands out for me is the prose of Susan Sontag. At times it is astonishing; even though it is very readable it often has a poetic quality of expression that is very enriching.

A very satisfying read (listen).


Have you listened to any of Jennifer Van Dyck’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, I have not listened to Jennifer Van Dyck's other performances.
This performance is good, complimenting the novel.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Being exposed to her vivid understanding of the emotional currents peculiar to the different sexes, is a valued experience.


Any additional comments?

The authors ''message'' is a little too overt.

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- Leon

The Passion of Hamilton, Nelson, Emma & Vesuvius

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The "Volcano Lover" of the title is Sir William Hamilton, the envoy from England to Naples in the late 18th century. He is a collector and scholar, and soon fascinated by Vesuvius looming across the Bay. He makes many excursions up its flanks and watches when it erupts. The story really kicks in during part two when he meets Emma. She becomes his wife and soon Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson's mistress. Some brilliant descriptions of Naples under the French, life at sea and the fascinating passion of big Emma and little Nelson for each other, and their affection for her husband. The quirky style never explicitly names the main characters but calls Hamilton "The Cavaliere", Emma "The Cavaliere's Wife" and Nelson "The Hero". Sontag's staccato style takes a little getting used to but is worth the effort. Apart from some mispronunciations, Jennifer Van Dyck reads very well.


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- Caroline Lawrence

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-09-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios