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5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love
As always I love Marlena's books. It combined delicious recipes, food writing, travel writing and a glimpse into italian rural life. Loved it!
Published 11 months ago by Cherrymay

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-long but not without charm
This book was a present from a friend in New Zealand and in fact my copy has the title "An Umbrian Love Story: Coming home to Via del Duomo" but has the same cover and is clearly the identical book apart from its title.

I have to say that had it not been a gift from someone whose judgement I respect, I probably would not have finished it. I had just read the...
Published on 14 Dec 2009 by hiljean


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-long but not without charm, 14 Dec 2009
By 
hiljean (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
This book was a present from a friend in New Zealand and in fact my copy has the title "An Umbrian Love Story: Coming home to Via del Duomo" but has the same cover and is clearly the identical book apart from its title.

I have to say that had it not been a gift from someone whose judgement I respect, I probably would not have finished it. I had just read the deeply unsettling and sad "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and was dying for some light relief so this looked the perfect book to cheer me up. It's hard to say exactly what is wrong with it as all the ingredients seem to be there: a couple, in love, move to an idyllic Italian village with a cast of eccentric locals. As she gets to know them our "heroine" Chou, as she seems to be known, plans to have a large dinner party in the apartment they are moving in to (the ballroom of a converted palazzo) in order to bring together this disparate cast and heal ancient grievances. I won't spoil the ending, but according to one other reviewer who clearly knows the village of Orvieto, most of the story is "fantasy". Well, that's quite likely, after all what memoir/biography or piece of travel writing is pure truth and fact? Every writer embroiders things to make them more interesting for the reader. And one man's truth is another man's fiction, so to speak.

So, where does it go wrong? There is something horribly "precious" about de Blasi's writing style. It's overly long and overly ornate, and she has some annoying little habits such as referring to her husband as "the Venetian" (why not use his name?), and to another character as "Miranda-of-the-bosoms" which starts to irritate after a while.

Perhaps if I had read her earlier books first I would have enjoyed this more as some of these oddities were presumably explained in those. But I would not recommend you start with this one if you want to read Marlena de Blasi.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear...., 22 Jan 2008
By 
JP (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
I tried, I really did. I persevered, bit my lip, and persevered some more. In the end, though, this book got the better of me. I found De Blasi's writing style laborious, convoluted, pretentious and physically painful to read. The shelves are groaning with travelogues, memoirs and biographies, so there is really no need to suffer this one. Try Annie Hawes, Carol Drinkwater, Peter Mayle instead.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A box of Baci chocolates or possibly violet creams!, 5 Feb 2008
By 
A. Noble - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
Marlena de Blase's books require one to suspend belief and are a light, entertaining read. The problem for me came most particularly with her third book. Is she trying to turn Orvieto into another Cortona? Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun became a Disney film. House prices rocketed and tourism boomed in that grey stone Tuscan town. We who know and love Orvieto wait with fingers crossed that it will not happen there. The book contains a great deal of fantasy and should be read as such.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ruthless editor required.., 21 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
Marlena de Blasi can tell an interesting and involving tale, but the problem with her books is that they are over-written, so full of purple prose and florid description, and with metaphor upon metaphor, endless similies, and a way of taking pages to say what could be said in a single paragraph. This can make the author seem earnest and humourless, and requires a patient reader willing to make the effort to get to the worthwhile story underneath the somewhat over-worked prose. This is a shame as the history related is indeed worth telling. A ruthless editor is required to dispense with much of the unnecessary verbiage, and then I'm sure the books would benefit and become eminently more enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love, 5 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
As always I love Marlena's books. It combined delicious recipes, food writing, travel writing and a glimpse into italian rural life. Loved it!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Started great but drifted away,, 22 May 2013
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The sample gripped my imagination with beautiful tales of Italian villages but then completely changed when you got into the book. Disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Paints a Picture of Typical Italian Culture - "Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow"!!!, 19 Nov 2012
By 
MaggieP (England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
Marlena takes us into the realms of the typical Italian business contract, where "Domani" is a favourite word of all participants - "Tomorrow" means anything from a few days to several months, or, in this case, even years !
At first I felt sorry for Marlena & Fernando, not being able to move into their new home - the Palazzo - but then, you realise, that this
allowed them (particularly Marlena) to become
accustomed to the tricky ways of the Orvieto
society, both the rich Patricians & the poorer,
everyday shopkeepers, shepherds, & friendly
neighbours. What was acceptable, & what was
not.
An interesting view of life in an ancient city, &
one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As with all of Marlena's books about her life with her soulmate Fernando - the Venetian Banker - this one is totally absorbing & brings to life the joys & endearing chaos of the warm, crazy, Italian people !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down, 13 July 2012
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
This is Marlena de Blasi's best book yet. I enjoyed it tremendously. She adds to the story with her reference to the history and traditions of Italy, and of course her description of the local food makes one hungry and want to start cooking the same dishes. I also live in a Tuscan village and can relate to her experiences; how long it takes to fit in. She writes in exuberent colours, a modern day Thomas Hardy. I can't wait to read her next book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pretentious, 16 July 2009
By 
Mr. H. W. Kuiper (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
This book is a real let-down. It could be so interesting yet De Blasi writes so convoluted, so 'deep', so 'earthy' that it is hard to stay interested, or to like her, for that matter. The book, the style and she all come accross as very pretentious indeed, while her descriptions of every single person in the book are condescending beyond belief. Her pseudo-evocative descriptions of Umbrian/Italian food feel as if she has to prove that an American can appreciate real and rustic Italian food. She ordered a special box with blood oranges to be delivered by train all the way from Catania to Orvieto for her 'feast'... I think that about sums it up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria (Paperback)
Just gorgeous
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The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria
The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria by Marlena de Blasi (Paperback - 6 Dec 2007)
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