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Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure by…
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Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure

by Andrew Cotto

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
*This e-book has been gifted in exchange of a honest review*

Nice story but for an Italian reader it was such a disappointment, everything looks and tastes too perfect. This probably represent the view of Italy from a tourist's perspective. Probably, the best thing is not look to it too realistically. ( )
  CateMc | May 15, 2019 |
‘Don’t worry, Jacoby Pines. Plenty of excitement awaits.’

This is a gloriously sun-drenched story of finding a home, friendship and love – oh, and there’s food. Lots of food. Jacoby Pines, fired from his PR firm for an inappropriate text message, has come to Tuscany with his fiancée, the famous travel writer Claire St. James, who has been given a one-year assignment to find hidden upmarket-yet-rustic experiences for the traveller in Italy. Renting a barn from a local they embark on this new life together. And what a journey it becomes! Jacoby is a bruised and insecure man, prone to fits of bad-temper, and mourning the recent death of his father, his last surviving relative. In his possession he has a photograph of an unknown woman with the words ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini, 1939’ written on the back. It becomes Jacoby’s mission to try to find out why his father had kept this photograph hidden in his belongings. In the process, the story becomes one of finding somewhere to settle, somewhere he feels that he belongs – and finding friendships, love and the possibility of something more.

For the first quarter of the book or so I was on the fence with this one; at times the sentences were a little clunky, the Italian characters introduced a little too stereotypical, the language-barrier misunderstandings a little too silly. But then, you know what, I just lost myself in the story. It is simply an upbeat, uplifting, gloriously happy tale about dreams coming true, about human companionship, and about finding happiness in the simple things. Food is a central part of the book, with long, lovingly-detailed descriptions of the cooking and eating of local cuisine and drink. The sun is always shining, the scenery of Tuscany is breathtakingly beautiful. When Jacoby teams up with local hotelier Bill, and encounters museum worker Helen, the book has several set-pieces which celebrate the local sites of Florence and the traditions of both the city and the countryside. Some of Cotto’s incidental descriptions show a nice touch (Dolores, Claire’s cousin, is described as ‘plus-sized and outrageous’), and there is a very obvious love for the area and the people. As the story barrels along apace towards the conclusion (somehow involving a marble cat, lawyer’s letters, a local holiday descending into a public brawl, and an auction) be in no doubt that there will be a happy ending. Surely?

Joyous, fun, heart-warming and a pleasure to read, I heartily recommend this. It’s not perfect – some judicious rewriting of the opening chapters might have eased me in a bit sooner, and there are some proofreading lapses in the edition I read. But I’m quibbling – any book that I sit and read with a broad smile on my face, and has me chuckling and cheering along as it goes, is just what I need. Pure escapism. Loved it. ( )
  Alan.M | Apr 16, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was a delight! A colorful armchair adventure through Tuscany, with vivid descriptions of the food and scenery. Add in a fun storyline and interesting characters, and the overall experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Some minor editing (parameter/perimeter, attach/attack, here/hear, etc.) is needed. Many thanks to Librarything for the free copy of this ebook. ( )
  MBinSC | Mar 19, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book, laughed out loud in a couple places (the transvestite club was a highlight!), and thought the characters were sympathetic and well drawn. The use of Italian dialog in a few places caused me to pause though since I couldn't always figure out what was being said so lost a bit of flow there, and it did sometimes drag on. But overall a nice quick read in a lovely setting. I was even wrong about a potential love interest, which delighted me, I love being surprised. ( )
  melissajerome | Mar 6, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Thank you to LibraryThing and Black Rose Writing, who provided me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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When I requested this book from LibraryThing, I thought it was a memoir. "An Italian Adventure"! A cinghiale on the cover! The hand-drawn cover artwork! The Italian last name of the author! So when I started reading--and saw the second subtitle, "a novel" on the Kindle cover--I was disappointed. I was not able to see that on the LibraryThing selections page.

I struggled to get into this book. My first impression was that there were just too many adjectives. Everything is described in extreme detail. Hillsides are verdant, olive groves are shimmering, the landscape is lush and rolling, grape vines are twisted, gnarled, manicured. The hospital is bleak, the gas station shuttered, grass is knee-high--basically, every noun has at least one adjective to describe it. At least one. It was overwhelming and exhausting to read.

Somewhere around 40% of the way through this book either the writing shifted or I got used to it. Or maybe I ignored the excessive description? The novel finally had a plot, a touch of mystery, and a few plot points that needed resolving. With the story rolling along, the descriptions were no longer carrying the novel. And I started to care, and honestly I zipped through the last 40% because I wanted to see how the different threads resolved and came together.

In the end I enjoyed it, but this book is very much a romantic view of small-town Italian life. Everything is not slow and relaxed, all food is not delicious, all weekends not full of fun events. And though that should be obvious from the text (the hunter's relationship to his wife, work paid for but not done, overdue taxes, and so on do make it clear that not everything is perfect)--the bad items are swept under the rug and everything turns out great!

I did love the Italian thrown in. It pretty much hit the sweet spot of my Italian comprehension, such as it is LOL. ( )
  Dreesie | Feb 24, 2019 |
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