Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Under The Tuscan Sun

I don't know if I've mentioned it or not, but I'm in two different book clubs. And as such, I figured I'd start sharing my opinions of the books we read with you.

As I mentioned in a previous post, in one of my book clubs, we read Under the Tuscan Sun for our June meeting.

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I had a love/hate relationship with this book. It was written like a journal of sorts because the author took the content from a notebook that she kept beginning when she and her boyfriend, Ed, purchased the house in Tuscany. That being said, there was no plot, no storyline. It was simply a collection of thoughts, observations, recipes and tidbits from the experiences the author had purchasing, remodeling and spending summers at a house in Tuscany.

There were parts I really enjoyed. The book evoked in me a desire to experience life in another country, a completely different culture, a simpler way of life. It also made me consider the merit in cooking simply, eating in season and instilled in me a strong desire to grow an herb garden.

On the other hand, I wished there were some photos of the house, a floor plan maybe, some before and after photos of the things that were changed. There were parts of the book where I had a very hard time visualizing what she was writing about. At the end, there's a whole chapter about taking up the floor and there being layers and layers of stone below it. I just couldn't picture it. I ended up skimming the chapter because if I can't see it in my head, the words are just words.

There wasn't a lot of dialogue, and I found that left something lacking. I had a hard time relating to the author. There was very little about her life, about her personality, about who she really was. Pair that with the fact that she obviously has unending wealth (buying a house in Tuscany, spending a ton of money to fix it up and then flying there twice a year...she can't be simply "getting by") and it was entirely impossible to relate to her. I didn't feel for her, I couldn't see the world through her eyes, and I couldn't imagine what it might be like to be her. If you ask me, these things are crucial to really being able to enjoy a book.

So overall, I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone. Someone in our group asked "Did this book make you want to go to Italy?" I can't say that it did. In fact, I think, based on the book, my opinion and desire to visit the country has lessened. Of course that's not to say I wouldn't go given the opportunity or that it's no longer on my list of places I'd like to visit. It just didn't strengthen my desire like I would have expected a first-hand depiction would have.

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