Florence in Ecstasy included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Best of 2017” and the Atlantic’s “Best Books We Missed in 2017.”

Florence in Ecstasy recommended in the Portland Press Herald’s “Reads to Wrap,” the Florentine’s holiday gift guide, and the Rumpus’s holiday gift guide.

Foreign rights for Florence in Ecstasy have been sold to Rizzoli in Italy, Argo in the Czech Republic, Sonia Draga in Poland, Altin Kitaplar in Turkey, and Eksmo in Russia. 

Jessie presented Florence in Ecstasy in Florence at Libreria Todo Modo, the British Institute Library, and Florence University of the Arts.

The San Francicso Chronicle, the Brooklyn Rail, the Portland Press HeraldFeminism + Religion, and Rain Taxi review Florence in Ecstasy.

Jessie discusses Florence in Ecstasy  in BOMB, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Open Letters Monthly, and with Yahdon Israel on LIT.

Florence in Ecstasy is one of Book Riot’s “Best Books of 2017 (So Far)” and “100 Must-Read Indie Press Books,” and a Rumpus favorite read of the first half of 2017.

Press & Reviews

San Francisco ChronicleYou’ve entered Jessie Chaffee’s thoughtful, provocative first novel, Florence in Ecstasy. The novel’s pleasures arise from the jostling together of elements that vitalize and dimensionalize its story . . . Florence brings readers on a gentle tour of the glorious city and adjacent areas, of its habits, history, art and books . . . At the same time, the novel examines some of the ways an anorexic mind perceives the world and itself—perception initially made more stark, yet eventually rerouted, by its paradoxical juxtaposition to the abbondanza of sensuous pleasures for which Firenze is famous.” Read the review

NPR: “Thus begins Hannah's full-bodied fight with an old, powerful metaphor—is denial of the self rapturous or self-destructive? In a world that punishes women for being women, can you forge a place for yourself in the world without it? . . . Her hunger—for food, for happiness, for meaning—rises off the page, sharpens to a high pitch, balloons into elation, and then dissolves her . . . there is a classic but reimagined narrative at work here: a person's existential reckoning on unfamiliar soil. In this case, a woman on the edge, in a liminal city that sits between the past and the present, searching for her missing body—which is to say, herself.” 

Portland Press Herald: “The way Chaffee writes Hannah’s eating disorder cuts to the core of the psychology that is rarely the focus of eating disorder narratives, even though it is at the center of so many eating disorders themselves . . . eating disorders are broader, wider and deeper, and Jessie Chaffee succeeds admirably in mining them as she depicts a woman’s journey away from her earthly self – and then back again.” Read the review

Brooklyn Rail: Florence in Ecstasy reimagines how to write the American abroad . . . Chaffee has such authorial control that Hannah’s unraveling feels unpredictable to the reader . . . [the novel] doesn’t take the easy route and rewards us with rich language that makes us long to read it again to uncover further subtleties, as we do when we revisit a familiar, haunting work of art. ” Read the review

Feminism + Religion: “Jessie Chaffee’s Florence in Ecstasy is the most luminous debut novel I have read in a very long time. Imagine, if you will, a darker and more literary version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s popular spiritual seeker’s memoir, Eat Pray Love. This is not to diminish Gilbert’s memoir, which I loved, but Chaffee offers a much deeper dive into the dark night of a woman’s soul.” Read the review

Publishers Weekly: Chaffee’s debut novel is an unflinching look at a woman’s attempt to outrun her demons through an international escape . . . The prose is both rich and restrained, eschewing the cliché of melodrama . . . Chaffee treats Hannah’s story with both respect and honesty, displaying not only diligent research but also an emotional intuition that brings Hannah to startling life and makes her story quite moving.” Read the review

Rain Taxi: “Chaffee’s portrayal expertly brings to life this intoxicating city, from its abundance of food, wine, art, and romance, to the layers of space rarely invaded by tourists. . . . [Florence in Ecstasy] is as rich and demanding as the city in which it is set. ” Order the issue

Girl in Florence: “Visceral, haunting . . . one of the best books I’ve read this year.”  

The Atlantic’s “Best Books We Missed in 2017”: Alice McDermott writes, “Chaffee’s prose is lovely, whether she’s describing the physical toll, and joy, of rowing on the Arno or the peculiar psychology of female saints who, in ecstasy, starved themselves for God. There’s an absorbing story here, a love story, a coming-of-age story, a gorgeous portrait of the city itself, its beauty and its decadence, but there’s also the thrilling glimpse of a brilliant young writer just setting out."

Tobias Carroll in Vol. 1 Brooklyn: “As Hannah ponders the lives of the saints in whose paths she treads, the novel establishes parallels in the way that extreme reactions to the world–starvation, wounds, literal mortification–can be evidence of the divine for one person and a harrowing path to avoid for another.”

A San Francisco Chronicle “Best of 2017” recommended read.

One of Book Riot’s “Best Books of 2017 (So Far)” and “100 Must-Read Indie Press Books”

A Rumpus favorite read of 2017 thus far

Book Riot’s “Books to Celebrate Italy”: “A gorgeous exploration of the recovery process of a woman with an eating disorder.”

The Florentine’s recommended summer reads: “She is determined to recover in Florence.”

Read it Forward’s Favorite Reads of May: “A fantastic debut with gorgeous language and a dreamy locale.”

Baltimore Style’s recommended summer reads: “This is literary fiction that takes you deep into the heart and soul of Florence, Italy.” 

Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s May Book Preview: “The atmospheric story being told here is one about overcoming trauma.”

Advance Praise for Florence in Ecstasy

Florence In Ecstasy evokes the beauty of the Florentine landscape as vividly as it depicts the physical, and spiritual, turmoil of a young woman on the edge. Jessie Chaffee's Hannah is never defined by her illness alone, but by the breadth of her intelligence and the depth of her emotional life. This is a remarkable debut—frank, serious, eloquent.”
Alice McDermott, National Book Award-winning author of Charming Billy and Someone

Jessie Chaffee's protagonist Hannah finds herself in Florence far from home, unseen, unknown, estranged even from her body: in the most literal sense, in ecstasy. Chaffee's fierce debut brings Hannah's struggles, discoveries, and sweet triumphs to life.”
Claire MessudNew York Times best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs

“Be ready to be provoked and transported by Florence in Ecstasy, a haunting, beautiful novel of womanhood, the saints, and the mysteries of the body. Jessie Chaffee writes all this, and more, with a lyrical, fierce fragility.”
Krys Lee, author of Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean, finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

“Jessie Chaffee’s luminous debut Florence in Ecstasy is a hypnotic, addictive read. The shade of E. M. Forster stalks the heels of this story of one American woman at a crossroads in her life, in prose as lyrical and precise as it is evocative and haunting. Florence in Ecstasy delves with insight into the foreignness we find so often in our own bodies, in our own selves, giving name to that strange tension between presence and absence. Hannah of Boston tiptoes toward her own kind of hideous rapture, a beauty so devastating that we cannot look away.”
―Katherine HoweNew York Times best-selling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Florence in Ecstasy is a deeply affecting novel. It reminds us how easily the self can be lost and sometimes, with great difficulty, recreated. In perfectly calibrated prose, Jessie Chaffee depicts a woman in the throes of a devastating existential reckoning.”
Linsey Abrams, author of Our History in New York, Double Vision, and Charting the Stars, and the libretto for the opera Rappaccini’s Daughter