Just the (Italian) job this summer



Italian coastline! Glamorous movie stars! Romance! Everything you need from fantastically written, modern, summer fiction can be found right here in Jess Walter’s exquisite, rich story, Beautiful Ruins. In his book he takes us to the coast of Italy and to Rome, with brief stop offs in Idaho, England and Scotland before concluding half a century later in Hollywood.

Set mostly in a remote Italian fishing port in 1962, we meet Pasquale, a young man with big dreams but only a small forgotten hotel (amusingly called The Hotel Adequate View) to show for them. A beautiful young American actress mistakenly comes to his hotel (from the movie set of Cleopatra with Burton and Taylor) to hide from the world, convinced she is dying. Fate, circumstance and a langauge barrier seek to block a promising romance between the actress and the unassuming hotellier as she faces up to the real cause of her illness and he questions everything that has gone before. From there a fabulous tale unfurls featuring flawed characters, crazy romance and scenic landscapes spanning  fifty years and two continents. Continue reading

Taking it slow


Whilst travelling idly through Berkshire en route to a wedding recently, I happened upon the fabulous Hungerford Bookshop. It’s an exciting modern cavern of new and old titles that is unfortunately such a rarity these days. And that is where I got my hands on this great little paperback. Enticed by the cover art and the fact that we were travelling idly at the time, I snapped it up and read it in the garden during this weekend’s heat wave.idle traveller

The author, Dan Kieran, is a travel writer and is perhaps best known as the only such writer who does not fly. Instead he chooses to get places slowly and discover all manner of people, landscapes and life along the way. In this book he describes various slow journeys he has made – to a wedding in Poland, inter-railing around Europe in his twenties, to the surroundings on his doorstep in West Sussex and to Land’s End on a milk float with a top speed of 15mph! Continue reading