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Shelly's Book Journal

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Visit Tuscany with Jennifer Criswell

At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life - Jennifer Criswell

Title: At Least You’re In Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life

Author:  Jennifer Criswell

Genre:  Memoir

Publisher: Gemelli Press

Available: NOW

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


For some reason, it is an American obsession to visit Italy – live in Italy.  It is the topic of several best selling books.  Is it the food?  The simplicity of life?  The history?  What draws us in.  Through this book, we can live our own dream of visiting Italy vicariously through Jennifer as she gives up her life as a New York lawyer and moves to a rural area in Tuscany.  It’s the stuff that books are made of!


I must admit, that the title made me think that it was going to be a semi-humorous and mad-capped adventure with Jennifer meeting up with hilarious situations at every turn.  Or I thought perhaps a light-hearted look at the cultural differences between America and Italy and what happens when one decides to immerse themselves in it.


Instead, it was a more strait-forward telling of Criswell’s first year in Italy.  It was certainly an adventure, but not a lot of humor in it.  While I wouldn’t call it disastrous (more challenging), she does a good job of laying out what it takes to make the leap – and that even thinking you are prepared for the leap into the Italian lifestyle doesn’t mean you are ready.  It’s baptism by fire made ever more real by language and cultural barriers.  Oh and then there is the loneliness….assimilation does not happen overnight.  Jennifer is a trooper though and despite some immigration issues that keep her from holding a job, she embraces what she can of the sweet life and keeps pushing forward to make her dreams come true.


The story has a few dramatic moments, but mostly is a personal story of the author’s trials along the way.  I loved her descriptions of her small town, her comparisons to American life and her determination to continue on her quest.  I recommend it for those who think they want to move to Italy and lovers of travel memoirs.


Note:  I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.