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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Lively!
If you enjoy travelling to Tuscany, you will enjoy travelling through the pages of this book, recognising places and people you may have come across on a previous jaunt and taking turns to places where you have not visited. This is very much a brilliant read.
Published on 7 April 2001

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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as charming as you'd hope.
I've been looking forward to reading this for a while, but I was sadly disappointed. I'm incredibly grateful I didn't spend any money on it!

The book feels like one big missed opportunity; after all, a Californian family spends a whole summer in Italy, you'd think there would be plenty of funny, engaging anecdotes, people and places to write several books on...
Published 22 months ago by tiggrie AKA Sarah


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Lively!, 7 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A Summer in Tuscany (Paperback)
If you enjoy travelling to Tuscany, you will enjoy travelling through the pages of this book, recognising places and people you may have come across on a previous jaunt and taking turns to places where you have not visited. This is very much a brilliant read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as charming as you'd hope., 28 Aug 2012
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This review is from: A Summer in Tuscany: a Villa, a Fiat & a Diva (Kindle Edition)
I've been looking forward to reading this for a while, but I was sadly disappointed. I'm incredibly grateful I didn't spend any money on it!

The book feels like one big missed opportunity; after all, a Californian family spends a whole summer in Italy, you'd think there would be plenty of funny, engaging anecdotes, people and places to write several books on the subject.

Unfortunately this reads like a cross between a personal diary and a blog. Some of it is obviously intended for a reader, but too much is stuff which you struggle to think any but close relatives would have the slightest interest in .There are far too many details that really aren't interesting to a casual reader; no offense to Ms. Swanson, but I really don't need a run down of every other meal they ate - or at least that's what it felt like. Neither do I need to know how much cash, how many travellers' cheques, how many credit/ATM cards they had with them... yada yada yada. You get the picture. This kind of information could be useful to a person planning to travel to Italy (ditto the information about booking accomodation) but would be far better transferred to an appendix rather than slowing the pace of the writing down to a painful crawl.

Overall I found the tone patronising, and the writing lacking in flow. The author overuses speech marks around things, such as when she refers to the family as "foreigners"... um, an American family in Italy ARE foreigners. I can think of no good reason for the speech marks here. She also has an unfortunate habit of unnecessarily capitalising speech tags, a mistake that I find incredibly jarring.

I got frustrated very quickly with the constant explanation of fairly self-explanatory Italian terms. All over the shop one gets "terrazza (tair-AHT-sah) terrace", and many other words. Now granted, I'm sure there are some people who really wouldn't be able to work out that a terrazza is a terrace, but do we really need telling again a few pages later? I'm pretty sure most folks don't need reminding that a word that looks a heck of a lot like "terrace" means "terrace" when they've already been informed. Some of the interjections are almost comic ("Milano (mee-LAH-noh) Milan" - seriously, I'm concerned over anyone who can'tmake the connection between Milano and Milan), with others there's no almost about it ("caffes (cafes)" - seriously? seriosly?!)

It's a pity, because occasionally there are some little gems: I was, for example, very taken with the description of their first day at a rather swanky hotel on Lake Maggiore when the author talks about watching her family in the pool on one side and the fish in the lake on the other, and then a little later from the water is floating "immersed in the blue above". Now that's some lovely, evocative writing, and the reason I'm giving two stars, not one: unfortunately it's buried in between things that really aren't very interesting to read about, like how much Melatonin they were taking and the fact that the people at the hotel spoke English.

Overall, the writing here can be lovely when it's describing views, impressions, etc. When it's describing the details, though, it seems that the author had no idea what to put in and what to leave out, or maybe didn't know what book she wanted to write. There seem to be at least three jostling for prominence: a personal diary of things she wanted to remember, a "how to spend a summer in Italy" guide, and an evocative description of a foreigner's impressions of a new country. Either of the last two might have been good little books, but the combination of all three just doesn't work at all.
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