"Islands are for reflection, an interruption of the diurnal," Alan Ross writes, and this book is based on a long acquaintance with the islands in the Gulf of Naples.
Demobilised from the Navy, the war still fresh, Ross in 1948 made a series of journeys on foot all over Ischia. He spent summers there in the 1950s and '60s a period when Moravia, Koestler, Auden and William Walton among others made Maria's Bar in Forio a centre of gossip. More recently he has returned: Capri in winter, Ischia at the end of summer, the Aeolian islands in the spring.
This book, as well as being rich in description of the islands themselves, recalls some of those who brought fame by their presence; Gorky, Lenin, and Bunin; Pablo Neruda and Walter Benjamin; Rilke, Malaparte and Alex Munthe; D H Lawrence, Norman Douglas, and Compton Mackenzie. Naples, too, is an important part of Ross's experience and he records his pleasure in recalling it through the writings of Lewis and Burns.