Sunday, May 5, 2013

Marcus of Umbria - Justine van der Leun

I found this book baffling. Its subtitle is What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love, but the dog really isn't a major player in the book at all. Some of the events make no sense - the author tells us that the rural Italian family she is tangentially part of (by virtue of being the ostensible girlfriend of one son) is constantly battling bankruptcy, yet a few chapters later she has convinced the boyfriend to part with his life savings to buy her a horse, solely because she has a fantasy of owning a horse. She claims she is a great novelty to the villagers, who are supposedly unused to an American in their midst, but her boyfriend's mother works for a wealthy American, and non-Italians are always mentioned as being part of the village life, so - ? She tells us she has learned a rough, rural dialect of Italian that leads her to sound crude and coarse to non-villagers, but doesn't back this up with any relevant examples. Books like this are usually more light-hearted, but this book had such a negative tone it felt more like a chore to read - it was more about an American "girl"'s year of moping around rural Italy, failing to meet her own unrealistic expectations for life.

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