While the sense of the author and her warm and empathetic personality are evident, this story is very much as the title suggests: about an amazing 83 year old woman, Antonia, and her three gorgeous daughters. It is also about the next generation of this family, very much a matriarchal one dominated by the tempestuous, intelligent and intense Antonia who feels, when she meets de Blasi, that she has found a worthy sparring partner. And believe me, Antonia doesn't hold back. It's testimony to de Blasi's comprehension of human nature that she seeks to understand Antonia's barbs, her attempts to challenge her as well as her overt xenophobia, not simply relate it to us.
That she patiently allows this woman to open herself to her and thus us by a slow retelling of her history, is superbly and sympathetically done. It is also incredibly respectful and honest.
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The story unfolds in typical Italian fashion, over laden tables, groaning with delicious repasts that have been lovingly prepared by the females. Between meals, walks, arguments and other episodes, Antonia's tale and that of generations of Italian women and those of other cultures is revealed. Like an onion being peeled, we gradually get to the core of what makes Antonia the feisty, formidable and utterly fascinating creature that she is. From war time Italy through to the invasion of contemporary tourists and expats from Europe and America in contemporary times, who seek to interpret or worse, impose themselves and their ways on the Italian landscape and culture, this story spans many years, subjects and profound emotional states and how we recover or not from heart-ache and how the past inflects the present.
It's about memory, love, loss, family, friendship, the brutality and beauty of human nature; it's about how we cope in extraordinary circumstances - how these can bring out the best and worst within us. It's about cultural differences and similarities and what we can do to both sustain and bridge these. Beautifully written, the book has a haunting melodic quality that not only transported me to the Tuscan hills, but reminded me of the exquisite prose of Shirley Hazzard.
The depth and richness of some of the dialogue makes you want to linger over it in the way you would a fine wine or, appropriately, a wonderful meal.
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I reached for my quote book a few times, wanting to remember lines such as : "Solitude untethered by love is loneliness These are just a couple out of a book that is filled with philosophical and practical gems. The end of the book contains recipes - so not only are our minds and heart nurtured by this book and the stories contained within, but our bodies as well. Thank you, yet again, Marlena de Blasi. Aug 19, Laurie rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , sicily-italy.
A sumptuous and luscious read. DeBlasi does not disappoint. The author travels to a small Tuscan lodge on a Villa to meet a deadline for her next book. She meets Antonia,the Villa owner. Antonia reveals the stories of her life that she has carried with her. Marlena takes every moment of life and elevates it to memorable moment,even mouth watering.
The A sumptuous and luscious read. The simplest of tasks like making a bed with a crisp white sheet dried on a rosemary bush,or making a dinner with the simplest of ingredients,spaghetti tossed in olive oil with black pepper and grated cheese-she makes your mouth water and your soul hungry for a trip to Italy.
All of her books are fantastic. Nothing dry abt her non-fiction. She brings things to life and full color,sensory overload. Marlena,keep writing! I loved taking this journey with the author and especially Antonia. I hated to see this book end. Sep 05, Althea Wynne-Davis rated it it was amazing. Marlena de Blasi's memoirs are full of motley, colorful characters but perhaps none quite like the unforgettable Antonia.
While this book has the hallmarks of de Blasi's style — hunger-stoking descriptions of feasts Tuscan recipes included and lyrical writing - most of the book is devoted to Antonia and her family's heartbreaking story.
In a much lighter note — Marlena herself through conversation with the intractable Antonia — explains the appeal of her books and why they resonate with so man Marlena de Blasi's memoirs are full of motley, colorful characters but perhaps none quite like the unforgettable Antonia. In a much lighter note — Marlena herself through conversation with the intractable Antonia — explains the appeal of her books and why they resonate with so many.
Not for Italians. For the others. I write them for the outsiders.
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The ones like me. The ones who long to wander over the old stones, watch the light. Those who, even for a while, want to be in the Italy they dream of. Jul 19, Jennifer Rolfe rated it really liked it. She was a spikey character and although her story was fascinating I found that I didn't warm to her at all. I found it incongruous that her biting tongue could be so overlooked and that everyone loved her so much!!
The story portrayed a woman who wielded power over the domestic sphere but appeared to be a much loved tyrant who vehemently guarded secrets. I still gave it a good rating because it was a good read and left A fascinating story about a Tuscan woman and her life before and after WWII.
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I still gave it a good rating because it was a good read and left me wondering??? Sep 06, Tatiane Lima rated it it was amazing. This is a true story - Marlena and Antonia's. I want that. Aug 21, Carmen rated it liked it Shelves: memoir-biography. A telling of a family in Tuscany, basically the story of the matriach of the family named Antonia. Parts of her story has been told in another book, so that is why I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have otherwise. Antonia is a strong woman who is not in favor of outsiders moving to her part of Italy, especially Germans. I did enjoy learning some more of the family structures in Tuscany.
Tuscany life What a lovely read! The daily interactions and detail of this book completely took me away. I so enjoy her story telling and detail! The delicious recipes are such a bonus!
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Life is food!! Thank you for this heartfelt delicious, sometimes heartbreaking, tail of life and love. Sep 30, Torieqwq rated it really liked it. I have enjoyed all of this author's books; they feel like long letters written to me by a friend in another country. Jul 15, Max "Mr Divabetic" Szadek rated it it was ok.
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I grabbed this book at the library because I took a trip to Italy four years ago and we never made it to Tuscany. The numerous bread and olive oil mentions made it hard to read this book on an empty stomach. Dec 06, Helen added it.
Very enjoyable. Lots of lovely sounding dishes and plenty of Italian words to learn. My favourite is festina lente. Make haste slowly. Jun 13, Sandy rated it did not like it. Gave up after about 70 pages Mar 23, Brenda rated it really liked it. I liked the way the story unfolds. I felt a little antaganistic towards Antonia in the beginning, but like always Marlena shows us her beauty and i fell in love with her too.
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Jan 01, Wendy Patrick rated it it was amazing. Absolutely beautiful book. Take some family secrets, mix with memories and dose with fresh Italian herbs. Marlena makes you smell the countryside and makes you hungry for more. May 21, Clare Cannon marked it as probably-not. Jul 02, Beth rated it really liked it. AND yet another It's a real story. The first part is just OK. But, while reading the seconde one I couldn't put it down. Apr 15, Ruth rated it it was ok Shelves: italy. Not like the others. Jan Bartolacelli Saridakis rated it liked it Mar 01, Teri J Freeman rated it it was amazing Feb 28, Jeanne rated it liked it Jul 15, Fernanda Wagner rated it it was amazing Jul 24, Barb rated it liked it Mar 04, Merran rated it it was amazing Jun 19, And the best stories are often about friendship.
Readers everywhere are fascinated by female friendship in particular—the highs and lows, the intricate and unspoken rules, the incredible power of these bonds. Tall, blonde, beautiful, and strong, Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the s Houston social scene.