Vanilla Beans & Brodo

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

As for as literature goes, this book is kind of embarrassing.  I’m not sure if the author was trying to write a historical account or a memoir, but neither were fully developed.  99% of the exclamation marks in the book (and there were a lot!) were completely unnecessary and made me feel like I was reading some scandalous romance novel- without any romance scenes.  And, throughout its stereotypical Summer-Autumn-Winter-Spring book division was a plethora of repetitive cliche’s; in one paragraph, the grass was described as ‘swaying’ with every verb in a thesaurus.

That being said, I’m not entirely sure what the book was trying to accomplish.  It tells the story of an Australian couple that drops everything and moves to Montalcino, a little village in Tuscany.  Not sure how they supported themselves for the five years this story covers, but I’m assuming that they had plenty of money saved up that enjoyed them to enjoy la dolce vita without many worries and just socialize with their old signora ladies all day.  Thus, even though the point of this book is supposedly to show the ‘real life’ in Italy, I’m not sure how believable it is.

Also, I don’t know if this has to do something with the Tuscan dialect, but I found that most of the snippets of Italian written in the book was misspelled and not grammatically correct…?  Not sure if this was on purpose/the editor didn’t speak a word of Italian/I’m just confused.

I did, however, appreciate some of the historical facts- even if a whole, drawn-out story to support the tales was not always necessary.  And, while I do not care for the entire layout of Montalcino, at the end, I did feel like all of the characters and nooks came together to form an isolated little countryside village in Tuscany- which is what it is.  And I did enjoy learning about the history of the brunello wine, which essentially forms the basis of Montalcino’s economy.  For that last reason alone, I kept sludging through all of the excessive adjectives and stories.

However, I did enjoy the explanation of the Italian “escape clause”, which offers a way out for any conversation and deal that does not go to the person’s liking.  The author, Isabella Dusi, claims that

“(b)ehind these escape clauses is the indisputable fact that Italians, by nature, want everybody to be happy.”

And this is kind-of true.  It is a personality characteristic that I possess myself, and I am glad to hear that this has been observed as part of the Italian culture as well; I’ll fit right in.

In summary, I feel like this 450-page novel would have made a much more satisfying and effective magazine article than a long, winding diary account.  Also, that title is not exactly the most accurate or content-guiding title.  But, hey, it made me pick it up and read it, so I guess that it has served its purpose.

If you’re interested in a lady-moves-to-Tuscany-because-she-can-and-slowly-becomes-Italian-through-food-and-wine, I’d say stick with Under The Tuscan Sun. 


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