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Friday, October 8, 2010

Great Book: Extra Virgin; a Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera

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I'm reading a great book right now - sort of along the lines of "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Eat, Pray, Love", if you've read either of those books - but this one is much more humorous, at times hilarious, at times sad.

It's called Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month is Enchanted, by Annie Hawes.
Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month Is Enchanted  

It was written in 2001, but takes place in the late 1980s.  Imagine, an English city woman working for a few weeks with her sister grafting roses in a remote Northwestern Italian village near the Mediterranean Sea.  She suddenly decides to buy a country home on a mountainside.  Or rather, a stone hut.  The trials and tribulations of said city woman trying to make her way in a foreign country and vastly different culture - the villagers don't even speak Italian to each other, rather a local dialect not at all resembling Italian, they don't allow the English women more than 2 cups of coffee per day (don't they know if will upset their systems), only 2 glasses of wine and only before a meal to prepare the body to accept the food,  as well as countless other food and drink social niceties, no bathing in the sea except during certain months, and hilarious other social faux-pas are committed by the author and her sister.  I was laughing out loud at many of the situations the women find themselves in.

On the other side of the coin, the reader is introduced to a culture that is still deeply affected by World War 2, even though it ended almost 25 years before the story takes place.  The author, British, is amazed that the memory is so fresh here when it is not that way in her home country.  The older Italian villagers tell tales of brave partisans, frightening experiences, and even death that took place in the village and surrounding hills during the war.  Indeed, the memory of war is so fresh that the locals despise the many German tourists who frequent the area. 

I still haven't finished the book, but it's so good that I'm giving a recommendation now.  A great read for the slower months of fall and winter.  As it gets cooler here, why not read a tale that takes place in a warmer land?  And the food the books talks about!  From scratch, fresh local ingredients cooked with care and love.  Sounds so delicious.

Thanks for reading the All Natural Mama blog!

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