Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Those "I-Chucked-It-All-and-Moved-To-Tuscany" Books ~

Finding a compelling book is hard. Discovering an enjoyable book that reels you in during those twenty minutes before bedtime? Very difficult. I finished Eothen. I finished Howards End. I moved on to an historical study of five Victorian marriages called Parallel Lives. I'd read a bit in it years ago. But after being treated to the excellence of E.M. Forster's prose, this author's skills (or lack thereof) were a disappointment. I set the book aside in my give-away pile. What next?
I bought this book at the local used bookstore months ago, read a few dozen pages, and set it aside as well. So I'm giving it another try.
I find the writer enjoyable if a bit slovenly in his personal habits. But hey -- he's a single, weary foodie retiring to a paradise and returning to his Greek roots. I'd be slovenly too!

After a facebook friend asked what I'd been reading, and I told her, she asked if I'd read other I-want-to-buy-a-farm-on-the-Mediterranean books. (Well, that's not quite what she said, but ...) You know the type of book. I love them, and have kept a small selection of them for repeat readings -- for those days when life is hard and cold, and a vicarious visit to a farm/farmhouse in Tuscany/Provence/Venice/Greece is just the ticket!
I'll list them, in case you can't read the titles:
Julia Child, My Life in France (just lovely)
Kinta Beevor, A Tuscan Childhood (my favorite of all of them. Would you love growing up in a medieval castle in rural Italy in the 1920s?)
Samuel Chamberlain, Clementine in the Kitchen (click the link for my review - I love this book.)
MFK Fisher, Not Now but Now (Fisher is by far the best writer in this bunch.)
Susan Loomis, On Rue Tatin
Rosalie Fuscaldo Gaziano, It's Your Turn, Chickadees (a family tale of an American of Italian descent who travels in Europe and finds her roots again)
Marlena de Blasi, A Thousand Days in Venice
Marlena de Blasi, A Thousand Days in Tuscany (the better of the two)
Phil Doran, The Reluctant Tuscan (I don't recall much of this book except I didn't like it as well as others of this genre. I bought it because I longed for more Tuscany, but this did not meet expectations.)
Tom Stone, The Summer of My Greek Taverna (I remember liking this book, set on the island of Patmos.)
Marlena de Blasi, The Lady in the Palazzo (I think I liked this one -- a romance, as I recall.)
Peter Mayle, Encore Provence (I read lots of Mayle's books about living in France. This is the only one I own. I read them years ago, but they were enjoyable as I recall.)

Another one of this type that's stuck in my mind is Ellen Drinkwater's The Olive Farm. You know Ellen. She's the actress who delightfully played James Herriot's wife on the TV show, All Creatures Great and Small. She went on to buy an olive farm in France with her husband and write a long string of books about her new passion for olives. I recall thoroughly enjoying this book, but I don't own it.
This Daily Mail article gives a nice excerpt from one of her books about her successes and failures at trying to make her farm organic, later.
Perhaps this bookstack summary will give you a few hints for your summer reading, if you haven't got your list finalized yet. Happy reading!


  1. I have a few of those books, too, and I never realized that they form a literary genre all by themselves! 8-) I think I'll pick up Mayes and Mayle again...

    Thanks for the list you included. I always need more books. Really. I am such a geek. Proud of it, too!

    Have a blessed day!

  2. Some of these sound really good! Thanks! I loved the All Creatures Great and Small series, so that book is especially intriguing. Funny, I wrote about books in my post today. Happy reading, MK! :)

  3. I haven't read any of these books. My book list is so long that I won't be able to finish it before I die. : ) I keep adding to it too.

  4. Titles and authors duly noted and I will have to see if our library carries them. Lovely summer reading. Thanks.

  5. One of my favorite reads was Joie de Vivre by Robert Arbor -- a lovely book about simple French living. Mainly food. I like get-away books. Thanks for sharing yours.


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