I have to say, I am not a non-fiction reader. My purpose in reading for pleasure is to escape reality for a moment, as there is already plenty of opportunities given my day job to read non-fiction. Thus, whenever there is the rare event that I pick up a book that happens to be non-fiction, most of the time, I hate it.
This time, that is still the case. The last non-fiction I read was Elizabeth McCracken's memoir, and I didn't like that. In fact, I found this one to be worse than that. I was hoping that it would be like José Saramago's memoir, which I liked, but unfortunately I was wrong.
See, the main problem with this book is that I don't know how to take it. It left me confused as to what it was about. See, the first part should be titled Renovating a Villa for Dummies. I don't think I appreciated all that narrative about digging wells, installing hot water, polishing floors, and so forth, not to add the fact that this is in Italy, and they don't speak fluent Italian, resulting in some rather interesting conversation.
After renovating the villa, the narrative continues by telling the reader about living in Tuscany. This part I enjoyed, as I love travel. Unfortunately, summer comes and the author loves to cook. The next part becomes a cookbook.
Really? A cookbook? I find myself reading pages and pages of how to make bruschetta, soups, first and main courses, and so on. If I wanted to read a cookbook, I have my mother's library to help me. Obviously, I didn't like this section.
After summer cooking, there's narration on living in Tuscany again, with the author writing about hosting lunches and dinners and guests from America, including friends and family. Again, I enjoyed this part.
Unfortunately, there's another cookbook. Yes, there's summer cooking, and there's also winter cooking. So there's another section of recipes. Unbelievable.
Fortunately, after the hated recipe section, there's the I am a non-believer so let's poke fun at the religious rituals of the natives section. As a non-believer myself, I actually had fun with this section (holy anorexia, anyone?), and for once I sort of shared the same humor with the author.
The book ends with an introspective section on perhaps the emotional and spiritual benefits of living in Tuscany.
So, after reading this 292-page book, I wondered what is it that I actually hated here. And I think I have an answer, after comparing this with the last two memoirs I have read.