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Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona Paperback – 3 May 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona
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  • An Italian Education
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  • Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (3 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099286955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099286950
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"A clever, entertaining book...charged with a sense of purpose" (Sunday Times)

"Gradually he comes to accept what the locals take for granted: everybody likes the Pope, racism thrives, the barber is a faith healer, the bank manager asks what interest rate you want to pay and the devoted church-going pharmacist upholds Catholicism on a Sunday but shows commercial flair the rest of the week by selling cut-price condoms... A rich treat from start to finish" (Sunday Express)

"Tough, funny and sceptical" (Tatler)

Book Description

'I recommend his book to all those who are fed up with accounts of roughing it agreeably in Tuscany and similar junk that scarcely scratches the surface of the real Italy' - Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book, it is always nice to know how foreigners see you! Tim Parks is a good observer and gives you plenty of details on his surprise at some of the Italian ways.
Things have changed a bit, though, as the book was written some 15 years ago and we changed a lot in politics and way of living, even if the typical characters are still there (my aunt is obsessed with cleaning the house and keeping it perfect, some people I know are "car worshippers" and so on). Some of the differences may be due to the fact that I live in Piedmont and not in Veneto and there is a big difference, not as big as between the North and the South, but still sensible. I guess this is one of the reasons that made me so curious about the book. I started reading it and couldn't stop, I finished it in 2 days!
It is really a good insight in Italian provincial life and a good read for anyone with an interest in this country.
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Format: Paperback
This book, like "An Italian Education" by the same author, makes a compulsory reading for who really wants to know about Italian culture and I don't mean how they cook, how they dress or how they play football. Tim Parks has lived for twenty years in the town where I was born and I have to admit that it took an Englishman to pinpoint the every-day Italian characteristics and ways of living. For me it was a bit of a revelation because I never thought all the idiosincrasies, manias and madness of Italian society were anything to write about, but then a friend at work told me there was a guy who lived in Verona who wrote a book... and here I am, reviewing it. The book is brillant, thoroughly enjoyable, it is always witty, hilarious and critical at the same time, it makes such an entertaining reading. One breezes through the chapters. I could see myself, my family and friends in them and this is the way we are over there, this is so spot-on! The author got it so right! I think this book is very special because Tim Parks understood the culture of the place where he lives writing a couple of superbly entertaining books about it in the meanwhile.
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Format: Paperback
Having lived in Italy for several years, this book had a special resonance for me. While signor Tino's experiences are slightly different to mine, I could often relate to certain incidents and recognize various characters and their foibles. Tim Parks' descriptions of Italians and Italian life are witty and affectionate, exposing some of the oddities and idiosyncrasies of our European neighbours. I don't think, as other reviewers have said, that he is cruel and scathing in his writing, or that he writes from a position of superiority - I doubt that these reviewers have spent years living in a small, northern Italian community. Rather, he accurately captures how he tries to fit in with this simultaneously surprising, frustrating and charming people, whose culture and mindset are very different to our own. Don't expect scenes straight out of a Forster novel, populated with charistmatic Roberto Benignis and Sofia Lorens - you will be disappointed. If you set your preconceptions about Italy and its people aside, you will laugh, despair, and cheer along with Mr Parks. And when you have finished, go on to read the sequel, An Italian Education, which focuses on life from a parent's perspective, and then A Season With Verona, told from a football fan's point of view, which is joyous even for those who don't know the offside rule.
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Format: Paperback
Tim Parks, unlike many other English authors who always keep aloof from the countries they live in, truly became integrated in Italian society. His family is Italian, he speaks the language perfectly and can understand it inside out... at least as much as any Italian. There is no smugness here, no superiority complex. Yet, he is able to maintain that cool-headed approach to description that only outsiders can enjoy when describing a complex society like that of Italy. As an Italian I find he does a better job than most Italian writers in describing us!

He is so part of Italy that, again as an Italian, I do not take offence when he makes fun of us! Because he is accurate, perceptive, and he loves the country. He tells it how it is, this is indeed how we live in Italy, beyond the stereotypes, with our bureaucracy, our immigrants (things have gotten more complicated since he wrote this book), our big and little manias...

The book was writen quite a few years ago, I read it in 1998, but as i re read it today I feel it is not out of date at all! So buy it by all means and get a good look deep into our country! Or at least Verona and the Venetia region, one of the richest and most advanced of all. It would, of course, have been a very different book had he lived in Rome or in the South!
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Format: Paperback
I wonder what Tim Parks' neighbours and acquaintances made of his depiction of them as bigoted, superstitious, hypocritical, scrounging cheats? Presumably in his intellectual ivory tower he just didn't think that they would read a book and so be in a position to care.
I was upset at his callous indifference to the sufferings of the chained-up dog whose night-long agonies when ultimately poisoned were cheerfully rejoiced about about Parks and his wife.
Having since read the lengthy account of his own physical sufferings in "Teach us to Sit Still", I hope that he has now learnt some compassion.
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