Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Cucina Tipica by Andre Cotto
New Yorker Jacoby Pines takes a trip to Tuscany with his girlfriend, Claire, a travel/food writer. He’s not having the best of times: a drunken text sent to the wrong person lost him not only his job but any prospect of getting another in that field. Being unemployed is not doing much for his relationship with ambitious, status-orientated Claire. A frustrated former musician, Jacoby has no family, feels insecure, useless, and worried that he and Claire are nearing the parting of ways – particularly concerning their very different reasons for wanting to go to this part of Italy.
The adventure side of the story is fairly low-key, with some interesting relationships and amusing situations. The descriptions of the area and the food probably make up half the book, and I enjoyed these to a certain extent, but I don’t eat meat and dairy and am not a ‘foodie’ (I think knocking up a vegetable chilli with a ready-made sauce is cooking), so it was a bit wasted on me. If of the gourmet persuasion, though, you will adore this.
I liked: 1. Jacoby’s realisations about himself, that he was at home in rural Italy and was not a New Yorker at all, and his observations about his previous wealth-orientated, competitive lifestyle – according to Claire, the ‘real’ world – and the ex-pats of ‘Chiantishire’. 2. The depiction of the place itself, the people and the way of life. 3. The characterisation and dialogue. 4. The writing style. 5. The outcome.
I was less keen on: 1. The food detail. 2. Some of the dialogue being written in Italian. Obviously it was necessary for authenticity, but as I can’t speak it, I didn’t actually know what they were saying. Sometimes I could guess, but more often not.
My only other comment is directed at the publisher – does this book not deserve to be wrapped in colour? I can imagine a cover splashed with luscious olives, lemons, bottles of red wine, pizza dripping with tomatoes and olive oil, sunshine and blue skies, that would leap out at those who long for a Tuscan idyll.
To sum up: a rather lovely book in many ways; not quite my thing but if you do fancy it, there’s a sequel, too!
Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure is the story of Jacoby Pines, a disheartened American who arrives in Italy on vacation and decides he never wants to leave. What follows is a food-filled, wine-soaked, travel-laden adventure about one man’s quest for an antiquated existence in the modern world.
Thanks, Terry. I am not big into food either, so although I liked the setting, I wasn’t sure this would be for me. I know I like the author’s style, and I’m looking forward to reading another one of his novels soon. Thanks for clarifying my thoughts on this book. And I concur with your comment about the cover (although perhaps they worried people would think it was a cookery book)!
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