cover image Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome

Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome

Susan Levenstein. Paul Dry, $16.95 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-58988-139-6

Levenstein’s memoir of her 40 years as an American-trained doctor living and working in Rome is equally revealing about her struggles with her profession and her experience of her adopted country. While sharing the many difficulties she’s faced as an outsider to the Italian healthcare system—with its piles of paperwork, unwritten rules, and old boy networks—Levenstein also writes a love letter to Italy, which first won her heart on a holiday there as a student in 1970, and to which she returned in 1978. The first chapters recount, with a combination of exasperation and humor, the years-long obstacle course she encountered in her quest to practice medicine in the country. She proceeds to talks about everything from what a well-dressed Italian physician should wear, to, in a particularly wise and witty chapter, love and sex from both an Italian and an American perspective. A timely epilogue discusses the Affordable Care Act from her unique position as an American expat and an Italian physician, with Levenstein reflecting on how Italians, despite widespread dissatisfaction with their own health system, manage to live more healthily than Americans. She still resides and works in Rome, noting that despite many false starts and frustrating encounters, “it never occurred to me to head home.” Americans worrying about healthcare and contemplating an expat lifestyle will find Levenstein’s story fascinating. (May)