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Hill Towns: A Novel by Anne Rivers Siddons
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Hill Towns: A Novel (original 1993; edition 2009)

by Anne Rivers Siddons

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394627,176 (3.44)17
Member:stevielyn
Title:Hill Towns: A Novel
Authors:Anne Rivers Siddons
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 400 pages
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Hill Towns by Anne Rivers Siddons (1993)

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English (5)  Swedish (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
I thought this book was absolutely amazing and enthralling. Cat, the main character, has never once left her home town on The Mountain in TN, until she and her husband decide to take a life-changing trip to Italy. Siddons' descriptions of the people and places encountered along the way are so vivid that I could "see" very detailed pictures of them all in my mind. Now I not only want to learn to speak Italian, I want to go there too. ( )
  kdabra4 | Oct 12, 2012 |
A single traumatic event from her childhood has irrevocably marked Catherine Gaillard's adulthood, striking her with an almost unconquerable fear of leaving her cloistered mountaintop home in Tennessee for thirty years. But now, in an effort to shake her fears and put the incident behind her, Catherine is embarking on a life-changing vacation to Italy with her husband Joe. As they make their way across the beautiful countryside of Tuscany with two other couples, Cat and Joe soon find themselves being pulled in separate directions, and the fabric of their marriage begins to unravel. And a journey that began as a carefree tour crosses unexpected boundaries, carrying them into the heart of their relationship, becoming the ultimate test of their love.

I truly did enjoy this book. It was a little slow to get into at first but I give it an A+! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Feb 1, 2012 |
This novel is a book sale find from several years ago. I finished reading it yesterday and still cannot really make up my mind about it.

My main problem with it is that I didn't like one single character in the book. The protagonist, Catherine (Cat) Compton Gaillard, lives on a mountain in Tennessee near famed Trinity College. Her father is a teacher there and her mother is from a poor family, and they are killed in a grotesque accident on a bridge down off the mountain. Five-year-old Cat is sleeping in their car near the bridge so she is unhurt. From that moment she believes she is only safe on the mountain, and refuses to leave, even to live with her wealthy Compton grandparents. She instead insists on staying with her mad maternal grandmother and her grandfather who is a janitor at Trinity.

She marries Joe, a teacher, and they have one child, a daughter who is born blind. Cat's entire life revolves around her home and the mountain. Finally she seeks counseling, and when Joe's protege and his girlfriend decide to get married in Rome, Joe and Cat accept their invitation to go to Rome for the wedding and then accompany the newlyweds on their honeymoon through Tuscany.

It ends up with a group of seven people traveling together and the discord the journey evokes. They drink so much I felt half drunk throughout. One of the women keeps going off after a man, any man, so mostly they are three couples, but three more different couples you couldn't find.

All this time Cat has occasional panic attacks, but stubbornly continues to wander off alone. I just couldn't understand her, so most of the time I felt like shaking her silly.

At the same time, the story seems to be leading up to an event and I couldn't stop reading because I needed to find out how the trip eventually ended. So I must admit it was quite a story even though it drove me crazy more than once. The characterizations are masterful, the description of the places they all go is enough to make me want to pack a bag and go, now. Siddons is an astonishing writer, but I do wish I had been able to like at least one character. ( )
  bjmitch | Nov 11, 2011 |
I really didn't care for this novel. It was just waaaaay too commercial and "70's" for my taste. You know how back in the seventies it was the rage to read of the "rich and famous". That is how this book struck me. But I'm telling you; give me anything by this woman and I will read it and usually rave about it. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Mar 2, 2009 |
Enjoyable read, and the only time I've ever seen Agoraphobia represented in a work of fiction. ( )
  WhitePineLane | May 27, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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"Endast de mycket unga kan leva i Paradiset. Erfarenhet förträngs av varaktig oskuld; förnekad kunskap blir en tung börda." - Andrew Lytle
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Denna bok är skriven till minne av min far Marvin Rivers som skulle älskat en odyssé till Toskana; och till Cliff och Cynthia, som gjorde resan.
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När jag var fem år gammal, fattade jag ett helt desperat beslut att för all framtid bo i en stad på en kulle.
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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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