Most helpful critical review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Italian summer home descriptions
on 18 November 2009
Synopsis: In 1967, the Newbys bought a house in northern Tuscany. They restored it, with the help of local craftsmen, and for the next 25 years spent several months, from spring to early autumn, there. This book describes how they bought it, their problems and successes, their interaction with their neighbours, and the lifestyle of local people, which in this period changed from a timeless one into the modern age...
I should first say that I loved Newby's 'Short walk in te Hindu Kush' and especially 'Love and war in the Apennines'. So I was a bit disappointed in this book - it reads like any summer-holiday-in-exotic-landscape memoir: full of crochety neighbours and interspersed with a lot of Italian words ("we thought the *merenda* was the *prenzo*..."). It also reads like diary extracts cobbled together many years after the fact; and a pretty personal diary at that, with much not really of interest to anyone not in his family.
And yet, and yet... some of the personalities Newby describes reverberate in your mind long after you've stopped reading, and his style brings it all warmly alive. So while it is by no means as good as his best books, I still give it 3.5 stars.