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am 22. Oktober 1997
This wonderful book is a moving and informative account of the author's trials and tribulations raising his children in Italy, and the discoveries he makes about Italian culture during the process. His occasional tendency to simplistically analyze the reasons behind the actions of his relatives, neighbors and friends might grate on the nerves of some readers (particularly those who dislike any criticism of organized religion), but nonetheless his love and respect for Italy and Italians is clearly visible throughout the book.
In particular, his charming anecdotes describing his vacations with his children while on the Adriatic coast of Italy struck a strong chord with me. His description of the Italian beach scene made me realize why I enjoyed my vacations on the coast of Italy so much. Throughout the rest of the book, some of his other observations and anecdotes brought me to a deeper awareness of what I both love and dislike about Italy, and further gave me a greater insight into the motivations, joys and aspirations of my Italian friends.
I don't know how this book will read if you haven't lived or travelled in Italy, but I would hope that it will give you an appreciation of the wonderful people and culture that I have found here. I read it in one sitting, and afterwards found myself moved to plan yet another expedition into the small beach towns along the coast near my home.
In all, this was certainly a wonderful, perceptive and inspiring book, underscored throughout by the author's wit. His earlier book about his Italian experience was certainly funny, but it didn't amuse nearly as much as this one, perhaps because much of his first book was so clearly intended to amuse. This book is witty, warm and loving at the same time and stood head and shoulders above his previous effort.
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am 24. April 1999
I liked the book, honestly, but I'm afraid I have to agree that this book is flawed. I don't really find it condescending the way a previous reviewer did, but I did sense a very deep disappointment, maybe even anger, that I didn't feel in the first book. I can understand this "anger", however, because , as an expatriate in Germany, I also have the same feeling towards my chosen home; it's simply not the perfect place it could so easily be, if only the Germans (in Mr Park's case, Italians) would play along. I really like Italy around Verona (I first saw this book in a bookstore in Vicenza)(a LOT cheaper through, though) and this book gave me some more really good peeks through the keyhole. There were lots of similarities between Italy and Germany (incidentally, I'd have to strongly disagree with Mr Parks' views of Germans - they simply are not so) so not everything surprised me the way it surely would a person from New Zealand or the US. I would have loved to hear a bit about our "old friends" from the first book, too.
Read this book and its predecessor. You'll enjoy them both.
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am 25. Januar 1999
Parks accurately and eloquently describes the challenges, frustrations, and joys of raising one's children in a foreign culture. Although this is may be too domestic a subject for those not currently challenged by parenthood themselves (as it would have been for me just two years ago), both expats living in Italy and those living elsewhere will be inspired by Parks' diplomacy and philosophy in negotiating his children's upbringing with the entire county, who see things differently.
Ultimately, it is just such a study of the Italian household which gives a deeper picture of the Italian culture than any history book or political essay ever could.
Parks narrates his portrait lovingly (I disgree with a previous reader's conclusion that Parks 'doesn't like Italians'), and page after page I found that Parks has the eloquence, humour, and grace to express what I had often observered here in my corner of Italy.
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am 10. Juni 2000
"An Italian Education" will not only appeal to Italophiles but also to parents who will enjoy Tim Parks vivid descriptions of family life in another country. Its actually a two country comparative study of family life, Italy, the book's setting and Park's England. The comparisons are thoughtful and often hilarious, particularly the two country's different attitudes on school, religion, medicine and a day at the beach.
Robbins wit and dry British humor make this a very enjoyable and fast read. Robins use his family as the vehicle to introduce the reader on how Italy raises its children. After reading Parks lovely descriptions of the idiosyncrasies of modern day Italy, I am still unable to discern how much Park actually admires about how Italy raises its youth.
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am 5. Juli 2000
I'm stunned that anyone could not enjoy this book [however, one reviewer previous seems not to]. It's entertaining, laugh-out-loud [pardon the cliche - but it's accurate] anecdotes that span more than eight years of child-rearing in Italy are deadly accurate with regard to Italian society, to the extent to which I can relate, enlightening, and endlessly amusing.
I highly recommend this for anyone remotely interested in Italy, having children, living abroad, or for that matter, anyone needing a good page-turner for a long flight.
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am 19. Januar 1999
An Italian Education is one of the most entertaining and sensible book I have ever read. While reading it, you discover or rediscover the Italian way of live while laughing at the more or less gentle remarks of the totally subjective narrator... While focusuing on the children, you actually learn a lot of their art of being parents. This is a kind of Bildungsroman, and Tim PArks is probably the one who receives "an Italian Education".
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am 23. April 2000
unlike the other reviewers i felt this book lacked subtlety, seeming more like a rushed text suited to please the publishers. the writing in it is strained at best and the author's stories prove to be rather unenlightening. as someone who hopes to write and live in italy this book should have been helpful. i have read mr. parks as a translator many times, but as an author i am not sure about his talents.
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am 12. Februar 1998
I saw many Italians in this book that I seem to know personally. Amusing and very insightful in the first half, the story line got bogged down towards the end and I found myself skipping pages. Difficult though it must be to categorize a whole nation it helped me understand the Italians I know a little better. Will now go out and buy Italian neighbours.
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am 21. Juli 1997
The author really doesn't like Italy or the Italians. His first book on Italy was wonderful.
Buy that and read it instead. The outlook on the
first book was one of bemusement and an attempt
at understanding; here, he just fears for his
children (rightfully so). I wish I hadn't read it
because now I don't like the author as much.
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am 26. Juni 1999
The author has a wonderful sense of humor. Reading about Italy from the perspective of a parent raising his children was very amusing and interesting. I found this book to be a fast and enjoyable (sometimes hilarious) read!
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