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Hill Towns: A Novel (original 1993; edition 2009)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061099694, Mass Market Paperback)Although Hill Towns is a coming-of-age story, it's no Romeo and Juliet. There are no young lovers flirting and bedding each other, thinking they've invented the act--this novel centers around adults. The main characters have been married for more than 20 years and believe they know each other absolutely. A trip to Italy shows them there is still much to learn.
Catherine "Cat" Gaillard narrates her own story, beginning with a gothic childhood of the sort that inspires folk ballads and tasteless jokes. Orphaned at age 5 when her parents are killed in a freakish accident, Cat chooses to live on Morgan's Mountain as the ward of chilly, crazy grandparents, though saner family members are willing to take her in. She reasons that, "From there I would always know what was coming. From there I would see it long before it saw me."
The rest of the story follows Cat and her husband, Joe, on their journey of midlife discovery. They both flirt with the possibility of an affair, they bicker, challenge assumptions, make new friends, drink too much, eat fabulous food, and tour Rome, Florence, and Venice. It's like being there. Siddons lets you inhabit Cat's mind and experience her struggle to overcome agoraphobia, her uncertainties about Joe, and, most of all, her neophyte-traveler's view of Italy. Hill Towns is an exploration of a mature relationship, but it's also an effective travelogue. Read it and see if you don't start to crave caffé granita on the piazza. --Brenda Pittsley
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:27 -0400)
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