That Summer In Puglia Paperback – 1 Mar 2018
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"Very beautiful, surprising and evocative." --Simonetta Agnello Hornby
"This is an enchanting slow burn of a novel; a notable debut. Vescina's voice is admirably clear, her descriptions lucid, and her characters are human to the core." --Rachel Seiffert
"That Summer In Puglia is rich in insights into human emotions. It's the tale of the disastrous course even a great love can take if bitterness is allowed to prevail and chances of forgiveness are rejected, but also of the miracles it can work if profoundly experienced and expressed. Valeria Vescina's style has the fluidity of the great European novelists. Her characterisations are at once vivid and poetic, and the plot ever-surprising. Finally, here is the discovery through literature of Puglia, with its remarkable synthesis of Mediterranean history and cultures - and how appropriate, as this is, deep down, Greek tragedy. " --Edoardo Winspeare
About the Author
Valeria Vescina is from Puglia, was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London with her family. After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths (University of London). That Summer In Puglia is her debut novel. Her activity as a critic includes reviews for Seen And Heard International, Talking Humanities and the European Literature Network. She has taught creative writing workshops on the narrative potential of various art forms. Valeria also holds a degree in International Studies (University of Birmingham) and a Sloan Msc. in Management (London Business School).
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The writing itself, sometimes direct, often lyrical, full of intelligence and learning, is a joy to read. Towards the end, one of the characters is in Rome and this sentence struck me: she feels 'as inert as the bronze effigy of Giordano Bruno presiding over the square from the spot where he was executed. His crime? Proclaiming the sun a mere star in an infinite universe.' It's typical of this novel that an observed detail produces a flood of insight and a shift in my own perceptions and sense of place in the world, this tiny speck on which we are blessed to live.
I finished reading this novel on a Sunday morning in England - with the birds twittering outside my window and the single bell of a nearby church calling people to prayer - I could easily imagine myself to be in Italy. I see that Valeria is a native of Puglia and has also lived for years in London. She writes tellingly of both locations. Though I have never been to Puglia, or Rome for that matter, it very much made me want to visit. The Italian tourist board should take note!
If the reader has visited Puglia, the magic of this part of Italy will shine through. For those yet to visit, this book will surely inspire them to travel there and experience this lesser known area of Italy for themselves!
The story that unfolds surrounding the hero, Tomasso, his family and his life-changing love is vividly told. The contrast between existence in a drab, soulless area of London and the events set in the vivid beauty of ancient streets, where deep seated beliefs combine with self-destructive pride, makes this a compelling story.
The pace keeps the reader enthralled without loosing the emotional draw of Puglia itself. It's clear that the author has a lifelong attachment to her native land without being blind to some of its harsher realities.
When I finished this book I found myself wishing that the author had further titles for me to read (this is her first), as I wanted to continue to be transported in this land of passionate and willful characters.