At Least You’re in Tuscany, by Jennifer Criswell (2012)

Genre: Nonfiction
Interest Level: Adult
At Least You're in TuscanyThe subtitle to this book tells it all: “A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life.” In the vein of Peter Mayle’s delightful A Year in Provence, or Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun, Criswell recounts her move from New York City to Italy at the age of 38, the culmination of an idea that took seed a decade before. It unfolds just as you’d expect – a chronological series of anecdotes chronicling a growing realization that this wasn’t going to be as easy as she’d expected. I wondered at first if it was self-published as it needs much tighter editing; Criswell relies a bit too much on the tropes of expat memoirs, spending too much time for my tastes on imagery, language slipups, and cultural puzzles. (But no, Gemelli Press is a Seattle-based boutique publisher of books about Italy.) The memoir quickly strengthens as she unveils the characters who populate her new home of Montepulciano, from her deceitful landlady Luciana and her suave Italian lover Salvatore, to the storekeepers who keep her spirits up while she waits, over months, for the right to work in her new land. It didn’t take me long to fall right under the same spell that drew her to Italy in the first place, though I hope to hell I’d be a lot better prepared! Thanks to NetGalley for the e-version of this title in exchange for my honest review.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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