"Italy in Books" - March reviews

Thanks again for joining the "Italy in Books” reading challenge 2011! What? You haven't joined yet? No worries, there is time to sign up until the very last day of the year...

Below you can find a list of all the book reviews submitted in March (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. Jose read and reviewed Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio.
02. Barbara read and reviewed God's Spy by Juan Gomez Jurado.
03. Juliet read and reviewed La luna e i falò (The Moon and the Bonfires) by Cesare Pavese.
04. BJ read and reviewed A House in Sicily by Daphne Phelps.
05. Dorla read and reviewed The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.
06. Jeane read The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough. Scroll down to read her review.
07. BJ read and reviewed Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes.
08. Gretchen read and reviewed The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones.
09. Coffee and a Book Chick read and reviewed The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas.
10. Parrish read and reviewed The Periodic Table by Primo Levi.
11. Angela read A House in Sicily by Daphne Phelps. Scroll down to read her review.
12. Pete read and reviewed Naples '44 by Norman Lewis.
13. Patricia read and reviewed Tomato Rhapsody by Adam Schell.
14. Lindy read and reviewed Etruria by Mary Jane Cryan.
15. Lara read Le perfezioni provvisorie by Gianico Carofiglio. Scroll down to read her review.

Reviews by non bloggers

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough. Read and reviewed by Jeane:
I read the 1000 pages The First Man in Rome and I feel that whatever I will say about will only undo how great this story was. For anyone who liked this book it must have been a joy reading it, for someone like me who loves Italy and its history it was like walking there, being part of its life.....pure joy. This book is all about the great Gaius Marius, a nobody who becomes everything. It is about him and the people surrounding him. Joining him in the story is the something who is destroying his chance and lacking the money to become more. Put them together with the help of a Caesar and you get a great, interesting story which was thanks to the author also wonderfully written. I am so glad I read this book and hope I will read all the others in this series.

A House in Sicily by Daphne Phelps. Read and reviewed by Angela:
An OK book, Not an easy read. It is a true story about an English lady who inherits her uncle's house and the stories are all about the different people who help her establish the house for guests and about the visiting guests themselves. I liked the stories of the people who worked for her the best. I think it tells you that in Italy, at least in the forties, it's all about who you know and who you can finesse, if you want to get anything done. The characters get a bit confusing at times, so the story doesn't always flow. There are very nice photos included in the book.

Le perfezioni provvisorie by Gianico Carofiglio. Read and reviewed by Lara:
Gianrico Carofiglio is a lawman. Before becoming a writer he has been a public prosecutor, hence, responsible of law enforcement. His task should be obvious: however, behind an apparent linearity, reality can be much more intricate, so that law enforcement is not so easy. Carofiglio has been the first one to analyze the complexity underlying a legal procedure and for this reason has been defined as the inventor of the so called “legal thriller” in Italy. “Le perfezioni provvisorie” is the seventh book written by Gianrico Carofiglio, and the fourth where the protagonist is Guido Guerrieri, penal lawyer, a solitary man whose best friend and confident is a punching bag. Our hero spends his days at the Tribunal and his evenings and nights at home, listening to music and making exercise with the punching bag. His life could be perfect, from a single man’s perspective. Guido is asked to solve a case regarding a young girl’s disappearance. Manuela did not come back home after a weekend spent with some friends in the countryside of Bari, Puglia, a region in Southern Italy. Manuela is apparently a good girl: her parents fear that something terrible might have happened and do not want the case to be forgotten. Guido is initially reluctant to start the investigation (he is a lawyer, not a detective); as soon as he learns more about the facts, he starts to be attracted by the sequence of events that led to Manuela’s disappearance. He meets several people who had seen Manuela the days before she decided to go to the “trulli” (typical building from Puglia countryside, so traditional and, in this book, insidious) to enjoy a weekend out and might know something more about her. Caterina, one of Manuela’s closest friends seems well informed about what happened: however, the solution of the enigma is still far. Guido Guerrieri falls in love with Caterina and goes on with his investigation in the wrong direction, following Caterina’s suggestions. Guido’s life is still perfect: he is not a single man anymore. He is experiencing new feelings, living in a sort of “temporary perfection”, till the tragic discovery that Caterina is involved in Manuela’s disappearance and death. Bari, the author’ hometown, is, once again, the scenery of such a dark story: the town can be, at the same time desolate and vivid, bright and shady reflecting the protagonist’s soul. The novel is so intimate that transcends the events to perform a deeper investigation: the reader may discover a frail lawyer, a man, first of all, who does not always appreciate his loneliness and look for a moment of perfection. I apologize if I have partially revealed, in this review, how the story ends. However, it is not the end of the story what matters: rather, it is the mixture of feelings experienced by Guido Guerrieri, isolation, euphoria, bewilderment, and, above all, humanity. This is the peculiarity that makes a lawyer together with the place where he lives so impressive and distinguished in the readers’ memory

And remember, two March reviewers are in for a chance to win a copy of Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto, courtesy of Hersilia Press. Buona fortuna!


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