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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

at least you're in tuscany by Jennifer Criswell

I was sent this through Netgalley courtesy of Gemelli Press. I was drawn to the cover so congratulations to whoever chose this one! You certainly are drawn to those poppies.

A honest to God look at moving to a foreign country without proper support in place. A courageous move, a bit of a gamble. You have to be reckless like Jennifer to undertake a task of this kind. Very little language, just an enormous love for Tuscany and a romantic entanglement with the entire country. Looking at a country through rose tinted spectacles for a holiday is one thing, moving to the place, becoming a citizen (which is what she did) and then trying to find employment in the current climate were risks that only very few people and though I am fairly independent, this is a single woman going it alone there!

The story is very descriptively told. The yearning to be part of a community, the feeling of isolation that befalls Jennifer when she is excluded at times like Christmas, the gossip that a single female engenders in a country which is known for its love for women! Her American style of being open and easy is open to interpretation of being very free and easy and she has to learn to live this down, keep a lid on what she says and how she says it, knowing that it can be twisted to suit the amorous instincts of any male around. This was tough going for Jennifer and I felt for her most sincerely. 

Here was Jennifer just wanting to enjoy life to the fullest in a beautiful part of the world, make a few friends and become part of a community. Not so easy to actually do but that she went so far and very bravely too. In the face of repeated failures where getting a job without the proper paperwork was concerned especially, most people would be very nervous but though she was nervous for her to was a question of survival and she somehow did it. She finally got the paperwork through a very arduous process (Jennifer it is arduous anywhere in the world to get new citizenship papers. You are not alone in Tuscany!). 

I was also very interested how her parents reacted to her plight. Maybe it is the American way but it seemed so alien to question/grumble so much on the possibility of giving her a loan which she was definitely going to pay back (on the part of her parents) who could afford to give her some money to tide her over. The Italians could not understand this and neither could this Sri Lankan!!!!

I loved the easy going style of writing, a very conversational style which did not detract from the story or the descriptiveness of the very natural beauty that was Tuscany.


  1. We moved to a European country for my husband's job and had very little support from them so I could probably relate to this!

  2. There are some definite sides to this story most of us ex-pats could relate to Mystica. I'll have to
    trust your judgement Friend and add it to my list (I just might have a few laughs/cries while remembering the awkward moments throughout the years to assimilate to a certain degree!)

  3. Oh this one sounds like just the type of book I like to read!

  4. I don't think I would be brave enough to attempt a move like that. I'm such a planner!

    This sounds like a great book, and Jennifer's honest account of her experiences appeal to me.

    As to the possibility of a family loan--I do get it, I'm afraid. Especially if it's something they don't fully agree with. That was my dad's way. He always had conditions--some really ridiculous. I saw this whenever my brother was in need of money. On the other hand, I was too proud to ask for his help. I wanted to do it on my own. To prove to him and everyone else I could.