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Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the…

Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every… (2001)

by Annie Hawes

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A delightful book! Not so much a travel narrative as it is a memoir with hints of beginner ethnography. That is precisely why I love this book, incidentally - all the little nuances of Ligurian village and olive farming life are lovingly and humorously shared alongside the author's own 'brutta figura' experiences. The author also shares local perspectives on WWII, the (at the time) possible inclusion of Italy in the EU, Italian Riviera tourists, other Italians, and the start of the soaring popularity of all things olive oil.

The only real issue with the book concerns the somewhat odd narrative style, as it is told mostly in the present tense, with foreshadowing, references to the past, and seemingly random side tangents. The book's timing really isn't in a single calendar year, even though she conceptually organizes her story around the theme of her first year... instead, she describes individual months with events from several years' worth of the same month packed in. It all works out though, as her tale is very engrossing and with a bit of thought one can bring it all together. ( )
  Lizbeth978 | Jul 29, 2013 |
Wonderful. Full of humor and warmth. ( )
  Harrod | Jun 2, 2013 |
I'm bailing out of this one, a little more than halfway through. It's the tone, I think- two cute and arch English brats go live among the Italian peasantry. Isn't the Italian peasantry cuuuuuuute? And the first person plural narration is so distracting to me I can't get past it. We thought. We said. We felt. Are we fused at the brain, then?

  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Well right now a full review will have to wait as I am knee deep in practice exercises in cataloguing and i am sneaking a short break. However I was most inspired and excited the more I read of Annie Hawes adventures of living in Liguria (Italy). I think I have chanced upon some solutions to my home renovation problems (we are still living post 2007 flood conditions). While the roof doesn't leak anymore everything needs repainting and it seems lime is the answer. What a incredible thing Lime is!. Lime out of the ground that is, not the tree, (although Lime fruit has it's uses too). Lime wash for walls - exterior and interior and your floors and furniture. Purify your natural water supply!.
there is a lot in the book about olive production and traditional methods and I would love to plant an olive tree but don't have the space where I live and not sure I could wait the 15 years needed to fruit. Still foodies will love the descriptions of preparing traditional Italian food as Annie learns from the locals. There's a wealth of Italian superstitions surrounding olives and food and many have surprising health benefits.
Well my break was too short... finish this later.... ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
A charming and engaging book about living in Liguria with her sister. This is not a book with lots of bragging or even false modesty really. Annie Hawes becomes a part of the village she has bought a house in and trusted by the local people and she tells about life there in the 1980s. This life she talks of has changed now, although some of the Italian beliefs are still held. A good read before going to Italy. ( )
  Tifi | Jun 19, 2012 |
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For Joe Boatman and everyone who misses her
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Hearing the racket from above, Franco wades through his pile of prunings, and peers up through the trailing branches.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140294236, Paperback)

A small stone house deep among the olive groves of Liguria, going for the price of a dodgy second-hand car. Annie Hawes and her sister, on the spot by chance, have no plans whatsoever to move to the Italian Riviera but find naturally that it's an offer they can't refuse. The laugh is on the Foreign Females who discover that here amongst the hardcore olive farming folk their incompetence is positively alarming. Not to worry: the thrifty villagers of Diano San Pietro are on the case, and soon plying the Pallid Sisters with advice, ridicule, tall tales and copious hillside refreshments.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:49 -0400)

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When Annie Hawes buys a hillside cottage in Italy for no more than the price of a dodgy second-hand car, a capable young Englishwoman becomes a surprisingly incapable Ligurian signorina. In the area by chance, Annie and her sister fall in love with the area. Their new neighbours are baffled - how have these foreign females survived? Don't they have any idea how to get their year's supply of olive oil from a couple of dozen olive trees, or good wine from bramble-choked vines?… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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