"Italy in Books" - October reviews

Thanks again for joining the "Italy in Books” reading challenge 2011!

Below you can find a list of all the book reviews submitted in October (via this link). I am sure that everyone will find it useful to learn about new and interesting reading ideas - in fact, I suspect that as a result of this challenge my TBR list will expand dangerously!

Whether you know the books that are being discussed or have never heard of them, I strongly encourage you to leave comments below and on the blogs themselves. I want to hear your voices! Despite its name, the reading challenge is not a mere competition, rather an opportunity to share ideas and bond over common interests!

Let's begin!

01. Barbara read and reviewed The House in Amalfi by Elizabeth Adler.
02. Patricia read and reviewed Sicilian Odyssey by Francine Prose.

03. Pete read and reviewed A Season with Verona by Tim Parks.
04. Lindy read and reviewed Recipe for Life by Nicky Pellegrino.

05. Tina read and reviewed Cucina Povera by Pamela Shelton Johns.
06. Jeane read Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant. Scroll down to read her review.
07. Lara read Rossovermiglio by Benedetta Cibrario. Scroll down to read her review.

Reviews by non bloggers

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant. Read and reviewed by Jeane:
Sacred heart tells us about Serafina, a young girl who has been forced into the convent of Santa Caterina in Ferrara, Italy. The first night she spends in the convent she screams, has passed long ago the level of being angry to a feeling a lot more negative and stronger. Suora Zuana, who is in charge of the dispensary, has to sedate the girl during the night and will be the first person who builds a relationship with Serafina. A relationship which will always be difficult and complex, where the line between trust and betrayal is extremely thin and fragile. The pressure of the counter-reformation on the convent makes life since Serafina's arrival even more difficult for everybody. Under the surface the convent starts to be divided in two groups, those who want to have stricter rules as described by the new rules outside the convent and those who want to keep their freedom in the convent. The Abbess plays a big part in this but without having any wish for it, also Suora Zuana becomes highly involved because of her relationship with Serafina.
For me this was another book I enjoyed from Sarah Dunant and loved to read it in airports, during flights and finally in Italy, not in the same city as the convent was situated in the story but in the same region.

Rossovermiglio by Benedetta Cibrario. Read and reviewed by Lara:
The title of the first book written by Benedetta Cibrario, “Rossovermiglio”, is the name of a wine, the same produced by the protagonist, the countess Villaforesta.
The countess spends her life in a huge estate, called “La Bandita” in the area of “Chiantishire”, in Tuscany. She left forever, years and years ago, the upper-class Torino for the quieter Chiantishire, where enjoys a peaceful loneliness and a simple and “free” life, although isolated in the estate inherited by her brother. At the beginning, the countess’ choice appears radical. Probably it is because of a rejection towards her life, already planned by her family, that she decides to start a new life in the countryside. Her destiny would have been otherwise rather predictable: a combined wedding with a violent aristocrat, who has in common with her only the passion for horses, then the end of her disastrous marriage and an unexpected relationship with a fascinating and ambiguous man, Trott, who makes her discover the excitement of a non conventional life. Around the countess, historical events, go on.
Narration starts at the end of 20s; the political climate is characterized by the turmoil that, after few years, will lead to the II World War. However, nothing seems to break the quiet at La Bandita, except some echoes of a tragedy that takes place elsewhere. Also the referendum day of June 2nd, 1946, when women vote for the first time, is described in a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
The wide use of flash-backs and flash-forwards puts together several distinct moments of the protagonist’s life.
The novel starts when the countess is already in her 80s, still full of energy in running her business as wine producer; in some passages the countess is, as well, a 19 years old girl, who deeply loves horses but is still naïve about life; then she is a passionate woman who falls in love with Trott, the man who will often cross her pathway and who will suggest her become a wine entrepreneur at La Bandita.
The countess chooses peculiar names for her wines: the first one is “Lunediante”, a “nickname” often give to someone who is lazy, indolent, as she is, a “lunediante” of feelings.
On the other hand, there is the “Rossovermiglio”: it is the color of passion and revenge, the same feelings that in few, brave moments, have characterized the countess’ life, and that now constitutes her greatest success.
Overall I would suggest to read this book: the nice writing, the accurate descriptions and the interest towards the protagonist’s fortunes make it a pleasant reading.

And remember: this month, courtesy of Diane Saarinen, one of you will have the chance to win a copy of Solitaria by Genni Gunn.


  1. Thanks for posting all the reviews. Some good recommendations. The link to "A Recipe for Life" is incorrect.

  2. Hi Patricia! Thanks for pointing that out. I've just corrected the mistake.


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