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am 7. Juni 2000
I see that I'm definitely not in the majority, here. I found Tim Parks' book to be an immense disappointment. As an American who's been living in Italy for nearly 12 years, I found very little I could relate to from my own experience. I was horrified at the plotting to poison the neighbors' dog (who was sadly mistreated), for instance. While his descriptions of certain frustrating aspects of contemporary Italian bureaucracy, housing, etc. are spot-on, unlike other reviewers I often found his tone to be patronizing towards the Italians he encounters in everyday life. An Italian friend, fluent in English, loaned me this book without giving me any hints as to what she thought of it; after I'd finished, she was relieved to find that I was as taken aback as she was at his characterization of his adopted country. "I would be terribly if every expat felt this way about Italy!" she told me. As much as I have enjoyed his fiction, Tim Parks' nonfiction left me cold.
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am 24. März 2000
I found this to be the most successful of the "ex-pat" books I have read. Parks has chosen to live in Italy, and has both a love and respect for his wife's homeland, and another cultural perspective with which to look at its foibles and frustrations. Unlike Peter Mayle who seemed in A Year In Provence to be laughing AT some of the locals, and who was somewhat removed from daily life, Parks is fully immersed in everyday, workaday life, and in raising children, getting to know and battle with bureaucracies, admiring education systems etc. And unlike that great phoney Frances mayes, the Tuscan dilettante who jets in each summer to dabble in cute stone-villa Italy, Parks has to come to terms withh being a 'local' whist still being a straniero.
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am 4. April 2000
As a Brit having lived in Italy many years ago, I always like to take the opportunity to return there even though I am at present just an armchair traveller. Tim Parks writes a witty and interesting story and gives insight to the inner workings of the bureacracy and the "system". The trials and tribulations of everyday life are well chronicled including the hysterial neighbor and the barking dog. At times I wish the author had "opened the door a little wider" by telling us what he had when he dined out and just a few more titbits about his personal life. He leaves it to the reader to surmise that his wife is actually an Italian. I highly recommend the book and can't wait to read the sequel. Enjoy it!
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am 24. April 1999
This is a good book. It's so nice to hear about real people and, in this case, about a different culture, as well. Being an expatriate in Germany I recognized a lot of situations and could really empathize with his view of a completely new home. I think I would have liked to hear much earlier in the book that his wife is Italian. I felt a bit cheated when I thought both of them were "foreign" through most of the book - we were led to believe that they were helpless in many situations, when it simply must have been easier.
After you read this book. Buy the next. And I hope the next, and the next, and ....
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am 30. August 1999
Parks is able to do what so few people (even those of us who are Italian) can: understand Italy and the people who live there. This is a marvelous account of life in Italy which can be appreciated by every armchair traveler. He is funny and insightful, and in describing those around him, he allows his reader to understand the not so subtle aspects of Italian behavior. I highly recommend AN ITALIAN EDUCATION, which picks up where this leaves off. This book might be preferable for those who appreciate a more straight forward account, rather than the books by Frances Mayes, which employ more figurative language.
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am 10. Mai 2000
This is the best book I have read about life as an expat in Italy (or anywhere in europe for that matter.) I first read Frances Mayes' books, which I found to portray a bit of a fantasyland in Tuscany. She never tells you what it's REALLY like to live there, day in day out. It wasn't until I read Park's book did I fully understand all the stories and comments from my italian husband. I look forward to the day we move back so I can live out the scenes in each chapter! An excellent read, highly recommended.
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am 7. Oktober 1999
I've lost count of the times I've revisited Tim Parks' adopted home village of Montecchio and enjoyed his highly entertaining prose describing everyday life among his Italian neighbors. This little book is an absolute treasure, indispensable reading for everyone who loves Italy and Italian culture, warts and all. His observations on Italians and their ways are intuitive and honest, infused with the author's obvious affection for his subjects. One of my all-time favorites.
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am 29. Februar 2000
As an American who spends part of each year in Italy, I found Mr. Parks' book to be delightful reading. I sometimes hesitate reading books about Italy because I feel that the author does not capture or understand the essence of Italian day to day living. Mr. Parks has successfully told his story in an enjoyable and honest manner. I also read his book An Italian Education, which was very good.
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am 5. Dezember 1997
I was still reading this book when I arrived in Italy, and what a difference it made to my visit! I felt so at home, and enjoyed every minute, as if Tim Parks had personally introduced me to all his friends and neighbours. I found this book a delightfully good read, and look forward to reading the sequel. I've started on his novels now, too.
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am 12. September 1996
Having been to Italy 15 times over the last 5 years,
I "thought" I had an insight on how Italians, especially
Northerners, thinks and feel. Tim Parks' book gives me
new insight into a people who are as unusual and interesting
as they come. Excellent for a person who has yet to visit
or will visit shortly.

RCMiller
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