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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From an Italian point of view;
Annie Hawes southern adventures bring back old memories and feelings that an Italian who has lived abroad for 10 years might have somehow forgotten.
Stereotypes and cliches of the Italian way of living and interacting are all so vivid and real in Hawes' account that while reading I sometimes forgot the reality around me and I could nearly touch the carachters and...
Published on 24 Sep 2005 by M. Scaramucci

versus
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half a goat's head
In the mid-1980s, the British sisters, Annie and Lucy Hawes, fled cold and rainy Shepherd's Bush to graft roses in the Italian Riviera region of Liguria, and ended up buying a dilapidated farmhouse with adjacent olive grove near the town of Diano San Pietro. This story of culture shock comprised Annie's first book, EXTRA VIRGIN. Lucy subsequently left Annie to manage the...
Published on 24 May 2007 by Joseph Haschka


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half a goat's head, 24 May 2007
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
In the mid-1980s, the British sisters, Annie and Lucy Hawes, fled cold and rainy Shepherd's Bush to graft roses in the Italian Riviera region of Liguria, and ended up buying a dilapidated farmhouse with adjacent olive grove near the town of Diano San Pietro. This story of culture shock comprised Annie's first book, EXTRA VIRGIN. Lucy subsequently left Annie to manage the farm on her own, and the latter's continuing coping exploits were shared in her second volume, RIPE FOR THE PICKING, in which she meets a man with romantic potential, Ciccio de Gilio. Now, in the third installment, JOURNEY TO THE SOUTH, Annie and Ciccio are each other's significant other. The book's title is inspired by a death in the de Gilio family, an event which compels Ciccio, his mother Francesca, his sister Marisa, and Marisa's son Alberto, to travel to the de Gilio ancestral home in Calabria, the toe of Italy's boot, to attend the funeral of Francesca's brother. Annie, of course, comes along to meet the extended family back in the "old country", and her introduction to yet another culture, Italian in name only, is the fodder for the story.

As an author, Annie Hawes is engaging largely due to her irrepressible and dry wit, as demonstrated in this excerpt from EXTRA VIRGIN:

"This horrible thing appeared to me as I was sitting under the lemon tree ... gazing focused and abstracted at the foliage below me moving gently in the sea breeze... One tall stalk that seemed oddly out of rhythm with the rest gradually drew my attention... Some sinister kind of long skinny snake was sitting among the tall grass, waving its top half around, cunningly camouflaged as a bit of plant life and hoping, I suppose, to catch some unwary plump insect... not just a concealed snake, but an actively duplicitous snake. We didn't need any of that sort of behavior so close to home... We set off a-sickling with renewed vim and mild hysteria, stamping about heavily to scare off serpent life as we went."

Unfortunately, in JOURNEY TO THE SOUTH, the narrative gets bogged down with the personalities, contemporary activities, and around-the-dinner-table discourse between Ciccio, Francesca, Marisa, a flock of Calabrian relatives, and various hangers-on, all of whom may be interesting characters, but not THAT interesting. The book suffers for it; too many times I caught myself counting the pages I had to go to reach the end. Events that should've been emphasized and the source of much humor, such as the refurbishment of an old farmhouse and orange grove inherited by Francesca, and the literal re-discovery of an overgrown hilltop lot, replete with ancient ruins, inherited by Ciccio, were reduced to a few cursory paragraphs. Much text is devoted to Calabrian cuisine, in which hot, red peppers seem to predominate. Oh, did I mention a local delicacy, a goat's head sliced in half vertically?

Surprisingly, Annie apparently had an eventful life before landing in Diano San Pietro. At 16, she ran away to marry an Irish/Jamaican boyfriend, a relationship that foundered almost immediately. She has a son, now in his late twenties, by a second man. "Lucy" is not her sister's real name. You get none of this from her trilogy. What does come across is that Hawes is a sweetheart. According to the Web, Annie is currently 54 and living happily with Ciccio in Liguria. They purchased a 25-room house further up the valley, and the experience of fixing the place up will perhaps afford material for another book. Despite the failings of JOURNEY TO THE SOUTH, I'll buy it.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From an Italian point of view;, 24 Sep 2005
By 
M. Scaramucci "top heavy ship" (floating boat) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
Annie Hawes southern adventures bring back old memories and feelings that an Italian who has lived abroad for 10 years might have somehow forgotten.
Stereotypes and cliches of the Italian way of living and interacting are all so vivid and real in Hawes' account that while reading I sometimes forgot the reality around me and I could nearly touch the carachters and feel part of their dialogues.
Great read, great book.
Mirco Scaramucci
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener, 17 Oct 2005
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This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
Annie Hawes has a vivid way of writing about both people and places. Here she covers her first visit, and the de Gillio family's return to their southern roots. However, for some of the de Gillios much of Calabrian custom is as strange as Annie finds it. So there is a double strand of reactions to local customs, plus discovery by Annie of which "Ligurian customs" that she has known for years are in fact transported Calabrian ones.
She also covers the region's history, and I was stunned by how economically repressed the area had been - even into the 20th century.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Southern delight, 23 Oct 2006
By 
A. Herniman (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
Despite a healthy love of all things Italian, I try to avoid books entitled "A Year in..." so I hadn't read any of Annie Hawes' material. Two pages in to this, however, and I was hooked. Enough and probably everything has been written about life in Tuscany, villas on the hills, blah, blah, blah; this book takes you to the underbelly of daily existence, southern Italian style. Calabria is a region deprived of its northern cousins' fame, yet exudes a life from days of yore, and Annie Hawes captures the intricacies of morning coffee, preparing mountains of lavishly described food and how/when/why to eat, with social and well-paced historical comment. Ms Hawes has a delicate eye for the detail and takes you on a journey not just to the toe of Italy, but to the heart of the mezzogiorno. Bravissimo!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not as engaging as her others- 3.5 stars, 19 Aug 2010
By 
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
I found myself a little disappointed by this book if I'm honest- but only in comparison to her other two reads. I absolutely adored Annie Hawes first two novels, set in the traditional Italian village that she and her sister had impulsively made their home, much to the amusement and consternation of the locals. Their mix of eclectic characters, traditions and yummy food ensured those books were utterly compelling as well as funny and charming. By the time I read the second novel, it actually felt a bit like coming home myself- the characters were familiar and she described her home village of Diano San Pietro so well it was almost as if I'd been there personally.

This book is a bit different in that it is based around a trip that Annie, her fiancé Ciccio and his admittedly rather eccentric family take to visit relatives from the Calabrian branch of the family following news that they've been left an unexpected inheritance from one of Ciccio's long-lost uncles. What follows are the usual madcap array of adventures one could expect with an Englishwoman in Italy- from lots of language misunderstandings, to broken down cars, to resulting picnics by the roadside, to crazily crowded Italian houses overflowing with walnuts, figs and lots of very unpredictable inanimate objects. Whilst I enjoyed it, I *did* miss the stories of her friends and neighbours from Diano San Pietro, and I whole-heartedly hope she writes another novel based there.

As a reader and an English one at that, I would assume that Italy is Italy... right? Wrong! Hawes excels at highlighting the different aspects of Italian culture between the regions, from the food to the language and dialects spoken, in a way that is both amusing and clever. The cultural divide is ever-present throughout the book like a rather ominous shadow. Also back are the yummy depictions of food and drink- a bonus for me.

Aspects of this travel book I didn't really enjoy so much was Hawes' tendency to be a bit over-the-top on some of the local histories. I actually skipped those parts because I found them a bit dry, though I can understand her personally wanting to know about them of course (impress the future mother-in-law, obviously!). As she has also readily settled into the Italian way of life, her habit of throwing Italian words around left, right and centre is also increasing, which, whilst it adds authenticity to what she and other characters are saying, admittedly becomes a little bit irritating in places. It didn't help that she slipped between not only Italian, but also Calebrese and Ligurian dialects in parts as well--- a tad confusing!

Nevertheless, if you're a fan of Hawes or English-people-abroad stories, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this as a light-hearted read. It's great catching up with Ciccio and his family and meeting another branch of the family tree--who are also predictably just a tad eccentric too. What I would suggest however, is that you should definitely start with her other two books first- you really need to get a feel for who's who and how exactly Annie from Shepherd's Bush wound up in such picture perfect Italian paradise. I'm utterly jealous; not only of her Italian life but that she gets to have hunky-sounding Ciccio on her arm (pictures of him, please Annie!), and I will be reading her next travelogue very soon!!!
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointingly thin and slightly bitter vintage, 2 Sep 2005
This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
This is the third of Annie Hawes' Italian character stories, but alas, in my judgement it lacks for the most part the winning charm, the empathy, and the cheerful good humour of her first two books.
The earlier books drew on her experience, over 15 years or more, of finding her way in a wholly new, distinctive - and often bemusing - social and cultural milieu among the olive groves of Liguria. Her perceptions were fresh, acute and wide-ranging, her cast of characters extensive and sympathetically observed, her own role presented with endearing gentle self-mockery.
This book by contrast focuses almost entirely on a three-weeks' visit with her partner and members of his family to Calabria, from where the family emigrated many years before. It is necessarily much more of a concentrated travelogue. But Annie is no Jan Morris. Her handling of background history and geography tends to be plodding and heavy, while it seems fairly evident that she found Calabria rather primitive and vaguely threatening. The running jokes run a bit thin, the amazing-Mediterranean-food motif becomes distinctly fatigued, and the observation of local characters is rarely humorous - in fact it's sometimes a little cruel and unexpectedly crotchety. Having discarded much of her ingenue-in-Italy persona, I fear she hasn't yet found a more rationally serious or critical voice. Hints of political passion and human pathos are just that, undeveloped hints.
As with predecessors roughly in this genre, like Peter Mayle, Annie seems to have found that her "Englishwoman Abroad" material scarcely stretched to two books. For me at least there was a sensation of reading a mechanistic commercial sequel. The warm and spontaneous outflow of enthusiasm has gone. She and her publishers should perhaps consider whether she needs to change tack entirely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Going down South, 3 Mar 2011
This review is from: Journey to the South (Paperback)
I quite enjoyed this book but not nearly as much as the first two "Extra Virgin " and "Ripe for the picking ".

I loved both of them and was so disappointed when I had finished them .

This book was interesting for me because I have an apartment in Calabria and I am very interested in the history , lifestyle of the place and the people and I found her accounts very accurate and related them to my experiences .

Unfortunately it was not as well written as her other 2 previous books and I found parts of it boring and repetitive.

A pleasant enough read but disappointing based on my enjoyment of the first two books Annie had written about her experiences in Italy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great continuation of the story, 24 Mar 2014
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I have much enjoyed Annie Hawes's books about her life in Northern Italy. Going to the south to visit her fiancé Ciccio's family (do they ever get married?) gives another facet to the story.

I have all of the books in paperback, but just somehow fabcied re-reading them while away from home, so downloaded them onto my kindle.

I do wish Annie would write some more . . .
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5.0 out of 5 stars journey to the south, 9 Nov 2013
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very pleased with the book. I was sorry to come to the end of the story .Shall pass it on
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love it., 4 July 2013
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My Mrs - who's Italian doesn't - apparently it's nothing like a real Italian family - although I watch her family do everything thats in this book.
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Journey to the South by Annie Hawes (Paperback - 7 July 2005)
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