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Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria Paperback – 26 Apr 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (26 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140294236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140294231
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

There is a natural inclination among lovers of the travel journal genre to compare Annie Hawes's Extra Virgin to the idyllic and idiosyncratic tales by Frances Mayes or Peter Mayle. Don't. Her saga has the well-built flow of fiction and self-effacing honesty of a journal.

Annie and her sister, Sarah, were in their early 20s when they left London for a 10-week job, pruning roses in the mountainous town of Diano San Pietro in Liguria, Italy. While Sarah is the sensible shadow in the book, it is Annie who falls in love withthe place and then the people and coming up on 20 years lives there still.

Youthful mistakes are rectified by a village mystified at the Hawes sisters: mystified that they would want to live in such conditions, that they know so little about olives, wine, food and life and that they are not--horrors--married. Time and time again she is confronted with the reality that is the life of a peasant farmer and in retelling the episodes of her own ignorance, she gives heartfelt flesh and bones to the characters.

Still, Hawes deftly drizzles an observer's scepticism about her adventure. "We gloat about the house, the food, the view, everything, whilst pondering the strange fact that if we saw a representation of this sunset on a postcard we wouldn't buy it. We would think it was tasteless." That she centred the story on the early, impressionable days and the gradual intimacy that developed, gives the book an energy that makes it stand apart. Although the final pages jump haphazardly into the present, Hawes's perspective is instructional about the economic and social changes that in 15 years moved the village from the 19th to the 21st century. Like any story with the ring of truth, Extra Virgin is very much a tale that will age well. --Kathleen Buckley


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86 customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

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15 January 2014
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14 August 2001
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24 March 2014
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