Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Title:  That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story
Author:  Marlena de Blasi
Format:  Paperback
Pages:  336
Genre:  Memoir/Travelogue
Read:  2010

Rating:  B-

Description (from publisher):  “At villa Donnafugata, long ago is never very far away,” writes bestselling author Marlena de Blasi of the magnificent if somewhat ruined castle in the mountains of Sicily that she stumbles upon one summer while traveling with her husband. There de Blasi is befriended by Tosca, the patroness of the villa, who shares her own unforgettable love story. In a luminous and tantalizing voice, de Blasi re-creates Tosca’s life and romance with the last prince of Sicily descended from the French nobles of Anjou. But when Prince Leo attempts to better the lives of his peasants, his defiance of the local Mafia costs him dearly. The present-day narrative finds Tosca sharing her considerable inherited wealth with a harmonious society composed of many of the women–now widowed–who once worked the prince’s land alongside their husbands. This marvelous epic drama reminds us that in order to live a rich life, one must embrace both life’s sorrow and its beauty.

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I normally love Marlena de Blasi's books on food and Italy.  But this one disappointed me, mostly because I wanted to hear about the Sicily that de Blasi explored, not the life of her Sicilian hostess Tosca.  I was really looking forward to a book about Sicilian food and the adventures that de Blasi and her husband experienced.  Instead, I read the "auto"-biography of Tosca, and although her life was exciting and full of adventure, it didn't capture my interest.  I never got drawn into the story the way I did with A Thousand Days in Tuscany.  It's still a great book, but not as interesting (to me) as de Blasi's previous memoirs.  I did love the ending; I am, after all, a sucker for happy endings.  But I think if I want to read a book about modern-day Sicily, I'm going to have to look somewhere else.  B-

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