Thursday, May 5, 2011

April reading

Still gradually getting through Jude the Obscure in little bits when I'm sitting in the car waiting for children. This may take a while!

See Naples and Die [Penelope Green] - bought at QBD bookshop in Westfield Belconnen. This is Penelope Green's second book about Italy. At the beginning of the book we travel with her as she relocates from Rome to Naples for work and, with her, we discover a city only a few hours from the capital, but very different in a multitude of ways. I spent the entire time I was reading this book vacillating between wanting to add Naples to my next trip to Italy and fearing it might be my last trip anywhere! But I do want to go - perhaps not next year, but Naples is firmly on the list.

Girl by Sea [Penelope Green] - bought at the Angus & Robertson liquidation sale. After Naples, Penelope Green and her Italian partner Alfonso moved offshore - a one hour ferry ride away - to the small island of Procida. Like other trilogies in this style I've read recently, book 3 really demonstrates how the author has settled into her new culture - not necessarily easily and not necessarily being completely accepted by the locals (at least initially). And book 3 in each series has local recipes - an interesting pattern.

The World's Most Fantastic Freaks [Mike Parker] - secondhand from a fete. Interesting book, but some of the language made me cringe a bit. Perhaps I'm a little more politically correct than I thought I was. Or perhaps the way many of these people were (and are) treated as exhibits rather than people makes me very sad for them.

A Thousand Days in Venice: An unexpected romance [Marlena de Blasi] - bought at the A&R sale. Marlena is a divorced American travelling in Italy. She meets Fernando, who's been watching her from a distance, and who finally plucks up the courage to approach her (by telephone!). He pursues her, even to the US, wins her, and takes her back to his native Venice to live with her in his apartment on the Lido and marry her - when they can eventually get through the Italian bureaucracy. And meanwhile Marlena falls even more in love with Venice.

Dolce e Salata: A bittersweet adventure in Tuscany [Marlena de Blasi] - borrowed from the public library. Three years later, and Fernando has quit his nice safe job in the bank, they've sold the apartment, and they move to a little town of 200 people in Tuscany. Getting to know the people is as much of an adventure as the move and settling into the new region ...

An Umbrian Love Story [Marlena de Blasi] - borrowed from the public library. The next instalment of the life of Marlena and Fernando. After much searching in Tuscany and Umbria, the couple relocate to Orvieto - the city built on a rock. It's quite a closed community - flooded with tourists by day, and separated from the people who live in the communities below. While waiting for more than two years for their palazzo ballroom apartment to be completely renovated (when they first find it, it doesn't even have a floor) they gradually find their way into the community, and bring together people who have lived in quite separate social circles.

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