"Italy in Books" - November 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 November (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. Gretchen read and reviewed The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson.
02. Juliet read and reviewed Roma by Steven Saylor.
03. Gretchen read and reviewed Italian Neighbors by Tim Parks.

04. Barbara read and reviewed The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato.
05. Pete read and reviewed A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari.
06. Lindy read and reviewed Passeggiata by G.G. Husak.
07. Jeane read Letters to Juliet by Lise and Ceil Friedman. Scroll down to read her review.
08. Lara read Il tribunale delle anime by Donato Carrisi. Scroll down to read her review.

Reviews by non bloggers

Letters to Juliet by Lise and Ceil Friedman. Read and reviewed by Jeane:
My feelings towards the book Letters to Juliet were influenced by having the front cover picture of the actress and having recently seen the movie. So I started reading it thinking it would be a light, fast and probably commercial kind of 'story'.
From the first pages I have been dragged instead into the words. Trying not to become part of the words through my well-known feeling when reading something very well written about Italy, I tried to stay objective. But around page 34 I admited I was lost and well into it.
Letters to Juliet gives historical facts about the story, Verona and more importantly it captures so well that amazing feeling that I have only found in things linked to Italy.
If I would be better in cooking delicate things like Baci di Giulietta, I can promise you I would be preparing them right now. The whole recipe is in the book, so I hope someone will make them and let me know how they are! :-)
This book brings me back to my visit to Verona, from where my dear friend is. She showed me around her city and it made me feel the wonderful Italian beauty. Reading this book, I am back at casa di Giulietta, walking a bit further in the narrow street towards casa di Romeo which has kept all the secrecy in the marvellous building like the legend around his name has kept and passes on to each new generation.
This book is mainly about the tons of letters which are sent yearly to the secretaries in Verona, tells about the universal thing in everybody's life 'love', Shakespeare's part in all this and the ones before him and so much more.
I went through the book in one day and loved it. What I thought would be a commercial, only facts about the movie and legend, empty telling was such a good and informative book. It felt lively even if it was about the past and at the same time present and future as love will be always around every second of everybody's life in whatver way.
I know it is a bit empty and commercial, but I watched Juliet+Romeo, the modern version, just before finishing the book.... to hear the words.

Il tribunale delle anime by Donato Carrisi. Read and reviewed by Lara:
When I read Il tribunale delle anime by Donato Carrisi, I had a strange feeling. I know very well Rome, in my opinion one of the most fascinating, brightest, most vivid town in the world. Here I discovered an unusual Rome, dark, mysterious, scary.The story starts in an ancient coffee-bar close to Piazza Navona. It is raining. Two men are discussing about a girl’s probable kidnapping. It is necessary to intervene before it is too late. One of the two men, Marcus, is the only person who could interpret the clues that a criminal mind is spreading around. Marcus is a hunter: he detects the traces of evil and fights against them. But he suffers from amnesia, since he was involved in his mentor’s murder, month ago: his mind cannot see clearly as it was used to, because of the shadows from which it is surrounded.Sandra is a policewoman, specialized in taking photos of crime scenes. She has recently lost her husband, who was found dead in Roma, and refuses to see reality as it is. David, her husband, used to recommend her to look carefully at anomalies, that allow to get a different perspective of facts, but Sandra looks indifferent at the beginning. She receives an unexpected phone call: someone asks her about his husband’ bag. Has he been killed for something he had discovered? What had he discovered?Sandra and Marcus are the two leading characters of a multifaceted story that takes place in the eternal city. Around them, plenty of events happen: some people are murdered, some mysteries are cleared, a terrible scenario, made of lights and darkness, candles and night, is depicted, like a Caravaggio’s painting. We are guided by Donato Carrisi into some well-known Roman places, that we now perceive as completely unfamiliar: each of them is hiding something. For example, the Caravaggio’s paintings in San Luigi dei Francesi church, whose details will remind Sandra to look at anomalies; the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where the ancient order of “Penitenzieri”, to whom Marcus belongs, was instituted; Via dei Serpenti, Via dei Coronari, quiet streets in the town centre where Marcus lives and where the young girl has been kidnapped.Many crimes happened in the past and are still unresolved, and many crimes continue to happen, calling for law trials in front of an invisible court of justice: who is called to be the judge? Sandra and Marcus are called to be witnesses of a scenario where the only possible options are revenge or forgiveness.I missed the first book by Donato Carrisi, “Il suggeritore”, that I want to read, after having discovered his stories and experienced the sense of uneasiness and tension that “Il tribunale delle anime” communicates. I would recommend this book: the writing is fluent, the rhythm of the story exciting. Maybe there are too many characters and sometimes the reader cannot get easily oriented about what is happening. However, I did not notice this difficulty, as I was so captured by the story that I finished the book in a very short time!

And remember: this month, courtesy of Fourth Estate, one of you will have the chance to win a copy of Made in Sicily by Giorgio Locatelli.


  1. Italian neighbours is great!

  2. Anonymous above was me. Sometimes it seems the only way I manage to logg my comment.

    I read The glassblower of Murano recently and it was so beautiful. I loved. Such a great titels this month!


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