Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Title: A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure
Author: Marlena de Blasi
Format: Paperback
Pages: 325
Genre: Memoir/Travelogue/Cookbook
Date Started: ???
Date Finished: May 1, 2010

Rating: A-

Description (from Barnes & Noble): They had met and married on perilously short acquaintance, she an American chef and food writer, he a Venetian banker. Now they were taking another audacious leap, unstitching their ties with exquisite Venice to live in a roughly renovated stable in Tuscany.

Once again, it was love at first sight. Love for the timeless countryside and the ancient village of San Casciano dei Bagni, for the local vintage and the magnificent cooking, for the Tuscan sky and the friendly church bells. Love especially for old Barlozzo, the village mago, who escorts the newcomers to Tuscany’s seasonal festivals; gives them roasted country bread drizzled with just-pressed olive oil; invites them to gather chestnuts, harvest grapes, hunt truffles; and teaches them to caress the simple pleasures of each precious day. It’s Barlozzo who guides them across the minefields of village history and into the warm and fiercely beating heart of love itself.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany is set in one of the most beautiful places on earth–and tucked into its fragrant corners are luscious recipes (including one for the only true bruschetta) directly from the author’s private collection.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to my sister for getting me this book!! It was fun, romantic, interesting, with recipes and descriptions of food that made you want to jump on the first plane to Tuscany just to eat there.

This book is what Under the Tuscan Sun should have been. If you read my review on that book, you know that I think the movie is a thousand times better than the book. I didn't even bother to finish reading it, it was so long-winded and boring. A Thousand Days in Tuscany has almost the same premise, but it's written a zillion times better. In both books, the main character is a remarried woman moving to a pretty run-down home in a small Tuscan village with her husband. She struggles to make the place livable and to become a part of the community. But Under the Tuscan Sun failed at making its story interesting because of drawn-out descriptions of construction and a whole chapter on the location of wells on the property. There was no personal, emotional connection with the people in the story because they came second to the story of the house's reconstruction. The reason I think A Thousand Days in Tuscany is such a success is because it switched the focus to the people and their lives and emotions. It was so easy to relate to de Blasi because she allowed you into her thoughts. She wrote about the people she met, her husband, herself. They made Tuscany seem much more alive and real.

I love the way de Blasi writes too. Since everyone around her is speaking Italian, she writes their dialogue in their native tongue, followed by the English translation. Some might find that annoying, but I liked it. I think it was her way of showing that the Italians said it better. It also helped me learn a new language. I didn't learn a lot of course, but at least now I know certain words and phrases.

I guess my only problem with the book was one chapter that just seemed unnecessary. That chapter also includes some content which I'm hesitant to let my sister read. It was just a very awkward, somewhat inappropriate, and completely pointless part of an awesome story. The rest of the book was great, and as soon as I found out my library had de Blasi's first memoir, I ordered it right away. A-

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