Amanda Prantera's Official Website

Biography

Amanda was born in Newmarket, Suffolk, U.K. in 1942 to a couple of very young, horse-racing-addicted parents whose marriage split up messily when she was still a small child. She was left in the care of her paternal grandmother who, although herself a Jewess by blood and a Protestant by religion, brought her up as a Roman Catholic. Her education was typical for girls of that class and period but now sounds antediluvian: private governesses, a spell at Lady Tryon's exclusive establishment in Wiltshire, a few years in a convent and then a series of 'finishing' schools in Oxford, France and Italy, officially studying languages and history of art (but see Protozoë and Sabine for a more accurate syllabus).
 
Unqualified for anything, housewifely chores included (her first spaghetti went straight from the packet into deep-fry corn oil), she nevertheless married at twenty-two a brave Italian doctor and has lived with him in Rome ever since. When her daughters, Sofia and Costanza, were in their teens she embarked on a tardy programme of study: took A levels, learnt German, got a degree in philosophy, read voraciously and then set about writing novels of her own. To date her proudest productions are her four grandchildren: Tegan, Nye, Matty and Milou.

Works

MOWHAWK'S BROOD - Quartet Books 2014
The riveting story of a British family and its connections with China.
 
Critics:
  • Mohawk's Brood is a beautifully realised novel of a world that no longer exists. Prantera is the author of sixteen novels and I cannot wait to read more by her, especially Strange Loop and Wolfsong. Chasingbawa.com
  • Prantera's slinky lightness of touch makes each character distinctive and memorable John Self, Asylum
 
NOWHERE ENDING SKY - Quartet Books 2013
Translation of Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer's spellbinding childhood memoir 'Himmel der nirgendwo endet'.
 
Critics:
  • Translator Amanda Prantera, a novelist herself, does a fine job. Guardian
  • Accurate, flowing translation, a delightful read in English. Amazon review
 
PETER AND THE EGG - Kindle 2013
Thrilling story for children, featuring a horrible schoolteacher, a magic egg and a perilous climb in the mountains.
 
WOLFSONG - Quartet Books 2012
Love story concerning two female werewolves, set in 1960's London.
 
Critics:
  • It's one of those rare books that manage to take a topic that's usually dealt with on a lighter note, and turn it into a mature, literary masterpiece. Bookinginheels.com
  • Amanda Prantera stunned me with her writing. I read Wolfsong in one sitting, gobbling it up like a favourite sweet. On one hand I wish there had been more, on the other I feel that it had one of the most perfect endings I've read in a long time. Just wonderful. Beth Flynn, alittlesunshy.com
Author:
 
Fans of Sabine will like this as well. It is a gothic romance with an ecological undertow. When evaluating my books I always try to remember the old Neapolitan adage: Every little beetle is a beauty to its mum. Even so, I can't see anything wrong in this little beetle: to me it truly is a beauty.
 
THE LOFT - Quartet Books 2011
Translation of Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer's late masterpiece Die Mansarde.
 
Critics:
  • What gives this book its tremendous power? First the voice is charming, with a skittish beauty throughout. (This may be the influence of translator Amanda Prantera: a fine novelist in her own right.) But there is also disarming honesty, and a lack of vanity, which appeals as only truth can. John Self, the Guardian
Me, the translator:
 
One of my favourite books ever. Not to everyone's taste maybe - too dry and too stark for the faint of heart - but a must-read for brainy old biddies.
 
SABINE - Bloomsbury 2005 (Published under the initials A.P.)
Set in a school in the French Château Country of the 1950's, it is the story of a young girl's coming of age.
 
Critics:
  • A.P. writes superbly. Sabine is an enchanting novel that deserves to be a cult classic. Daily Telegraph
  • A sexy Gothic tale. Vogue
  • Campy, creepy, sensational fun... Daily Candy L.A.
  • A tasty literary treat. Goodreads
Author:
 
Sabine is no longer my latest baby, but she still occupies a very special place in my heart. Reviewers were perfectly right to list it as a sexy, tongue-in-cheek Gothic romance, but it is so only on a surface level. On a deeper reading it has its serious side. The heroine, Viola, and her fellow pupils are being taught as their main subject conformity to social norms, and they will pay a high personal price for their education.
 
SPOILER - Bloomsbury 2003
 
A murder mystery set in a Roman Catholic Seminary in the city of Rome on the eve of the third Millennium.
 
Critics:
  • The story is bleak and frightening, but because the hero is so endearing in his slow-witted incompetence and whistling-in-the-dark bravery, it is also oddly charming. Sunday Times
  • A disturbing but fascinating novel. Sunday Tribune
  • A da Vinci Code for grown-ups. Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
  • If you like the genre but don't want to read 605 pages of the da Vinci Code, choose Spoiler instead which has only 224 fast-paced pages and doesn't insult your intelligence. Malu at Helium
Author:
 
It doesn't insult your intelligence, no, but it asks a bit too much of it. In 224 pages the story is over-compressed. If I did a re-write I would spread it out more.
 
CAPRI FILE - Bloomsbury 2001
 
A thriller in emails, set on the island of Capri.
 
Critics:
  • The reader, carried along at a spanking pace, must stay alert until the very last word on the very last page... a book I could not put down. New Book Magazine.
  • I took it home and devoured it. John Self, Palimpsest.
  • A chilling read. Sunday Times
  • Five stars. Thrilling, brill twist at end. Yoodoo.
Author:
 
A good taut thriller; I am really proud of it; can't find a flaw anywhere.
 
DON GIOVANNA - Bloomsbury 2000
 
A group of posh ex-pats living in Italy put on a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni; their own lives intertwine with the opera's plot.
 
Critics:
  • A delight – amusing, generous, unpredictable and deliciously gossipy. Angus Clarke, Times.
  • Thoroughly charming entertainment, complete with wry finale. Image.
  • Witty social comedy. Daily Telegraph.
  • Another gem from this inventive and experimental but consistently reliable author. Passionatereader at Amazon.
Author:
 
Light touch but not lightweight, it is exactly what I set out to write. I wouldn't change a word.
 
LETTER TO LORENZO - Bloomsbury 1999
 
Rome in the 70's. Wealthy left wing industrialist dies in a bomb blast, which the police suspect he caused himself while transporting explosives for the Red Brigades. His English born widow sets out to try and prove his innocence.
 
Critics:
  • An uncommonly good novel... Gripping, intriguing, intelligent, witty, moving and rings very very true.
  • Conveys the romantic seduction which goes hand in hand with the seduction of ideas. TLS
  • An intellectual thriller for the crime-loving Italophile. Times
  • Powerful and satisfying. Image
Author:
 
Satisfying, no, not entirely, or not to me. The story is strong and gripping and romantic but there is something out of kilter somewhere, though I'm not sure where. Funny, I can usually pinpoint narrative defects, both in my own work and other people's, but here I can't; I just register a vague overall imbalance.
 
Zoë Stories: PROTO ZOË & ZOË TROPE - Bloomsbury 1992, 1996
 
Short stories charting the zigzag process of their heroine from childhood to maturity.
 
Critics:
  • Enchanting and beautifully written. Today
  • These hard-edged stories raise the amusing dinner party anecdote to an art form. Independent
  • Reaching the end of this collection one cannot help being a little disappointed that the pleasure is over so soon. TLS
  • Prantera is a writer whose prose is so delicate, so light to the touch, that it belies the weight of the substantial talent which produced it... Irresistible. Times
Author:
 
Little powder puffs but beautifully made, not a feather out of place. I am pleased with them even now.
 
THE KINGDOM OF FANES - Bloomsbury 1995
 
A reworking in semi-realistic key of the mythical saga of the Dolomites.
 
Ignored by critics and readers alike, I stubbornly maintain this is the best thing I have ever done. If there were a purposeful spirit moving events behind the scenes, then this would be the book I was put on earth to write. It had better success in its Italian and German translations, but only Mondadori published it in its entirety. For those (1 or maybe 2?) readers who are interested, three readings from the second part are here on the site as podcasts.
 
THE YOUNG ITALIANS - Bloomsbury 1993
 
A tale of extra-marital passion set in Italy during the Fascist years.
 
Critics:
  • A wonderfully cool tale of adultery, passion and foreplay. Observer
  • I don't think I have ever read anything so good about the thin line between love and infatuation. Literary Review
  • A drolly original, wholly convincing portrait of life in a bourgeois Italian family, which is ultimately a celebration of family life, for its loyalties triumph over passion and politics. Independent
Author:
 
Nothing much wrong with this novel either. It's a good, honest, solid piece of work.
 
THE SIDE OF THE MOON - Bloomsbury 1991
 
A.D. 199. The famous physician Galen of Pergamus attempts to set the record straight about the reign of the recently dead Emperor Commodus.
 
Critics:
  • This elegant novel... is about history and truth, and about the secrecy and misrepresentation that go hand in hand with totalitarian regimes and high-level court politics. TLS
  • Amanda Prantera has a liking for the stylishly offbeat. Her teasing novel converts one of the most cut-and-dried episodes of ancient history into a complex and shady business. LRB
Author:
 
How kind the critics were. This is a total mess of a book. It reminds me of a badly cooked currant bun: a handful of delicious raisins set in a huge stodge of lumpy, unrisen dough. To think of all that wasted time and effort...!
 
CONVERSATIONS WITH LORD BYRON 163 YEARS AFTER HIS LORDSHIP'S DEATH - Jonathan Cape 1987
 
Critics:
  • Sparkling... written with and elegance that makes each sentence, soft or hard, a pleasure whatever it deals with... Seldom has my disbelief been so willingly suspended. Financial Times
  • I emerged from this brilliant book with my brain beaming. Times Ed. Sup.
  • This clever novel is brilliant fun. Daily Mail
  • Hard though it is to resist a novel with a title like this, maybe you should try.
Author:
 
I have mislaid the source of this last quote and include it merely because I like the snappy way it is put. Actually I agree more with the three nice ones: the book is a fun read still and the techno side has aged surprisingly well.
 
THE CABALIST - Jonathan Cape 1985
 
In Venice a twentieth century cabalist battles against evil forces to preserve his great discovery.
 
Critics:
  • I can think of no teller of gothic tales who betters her in the genre. TLS
  • The work triumphantly renews our earlier expectations. Observer
  • I enjoyed it immensely. Alannah Hopkins, Books and Bookmen
  • Read on, entranced. Guardian
  • Compelling and delightful. L A Times
Author:
 
Here too the critics were generous. There is a terrific story here but it is buried under too much wuffle.
 
STRANGE LOOP - Jonathan Cape 1984
 
An ontological spoof featuring a positivist philosopher who falls in love with a werewolf.
 
Critics:
  • A delight from start to finish. Evening Standard.
  • An elegant and haunting tale. Times
  • A brilliant and original novel. New Fiction
  • An enormously entertaining Gothic romance. Listener
  • A brilliant piece of storytelling. London Magazine
  • Dotty pastiche. Jane Gardham in Books and Bookmen
Author:
 
Gardham comes closest. The story is strong, but in order to reach it you have to plough through the first laboured thirty pages. My mistake was to have a fussy old fogy as narrator: it made for a fussy, fogeyish text. Still, it was my firstborn and I can't slate it completely.

Favourites

Dozen favourite reads ever:
 
War and Peace by Tolstoy
Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Byron's Letters
The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning
Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey
Shakespeare's Sonnets
The Loft by Marlen Haushofer
Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh
The House of Asterion by Borges
Feathers by Raymond Carver
Kafka's Diaries (and Adrian Mole's too)

 
Dozen favourite films:
 
The Apartment
Amadeus
Kiss Me Kate
The Commitments
Cabaret
Mephisto
Spinal Tap
Lost in Translation
Roman Holiday
The Big Chill
Nashville
Withnail and I

Photo

Amanda Prantera Photo

Contact

To contact Amanda Prantera
email: info@amandaprantera.net