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An Italian Education

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Tim Parks' first bestseller, "Italian Neighbors," chronicled his initiation into Italian society and cultural life. Reviewers everywhere hailed it as a bravissimo performance. Now he turns to his children -- born and bred in Italy -- and their milieu in a small village near Verona. With the splendid eye for detail, character, and intrigue that has brought him acclaim as a Tim Parks' first bestseller, "Italian Neighbors," chronicled his initiation into Italian society and cultural life. Reviewers everywhere hailed it as a bravissimo performance. Now he turns to his children -- born and bred in Italy -- and their milieu in a small village near Verona. With the splendid eye for detail, character, and intrigue that has brought him acclaim as a novelist, he creates a fascinating portrait of Italian family life, at school, at home, in church, and in the countryside. This panoramic journey winds up with a deliciously seductive evocation of an Italian beach holiday that epitomizes everything that is quintessentially Italian. Here is an insider's Italy, re-created by "one of the most gifted writers of his generation" (Jonathan Yardley, "The Washington Post")


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Tim Parks' first bestseller, "Italian Neighbors," chronicled his initiation into Italian society and cultural life. Reviewers everywhere hailed it as a bravissimo performance. Now he turns to his children -- born and bred in Italy -- and their milieu in a small village near Verona. With the splendid eye for detail, character, and intrigue that has brought him acclaim as a Tim Parks' first bestseller, "Italian Neighbors," chronicled his initiation into Italian society and cultural life. Reviewers everywhere hailed it as a bravissimo performance. Now he turns to his children -- born and bred in Italy -- and their milieu in a small village near Verona. With the splendid eye for detail, character, and intrigue that has brought him acclaim as a novelist, he creates a fascinating portrait of Italian family life, at school, at home, in church, and in the countryside. This panoramic journey winds up with a deliciously seductive evocation of an Italian beach holiday that epitomizes everything that is quintessentially Italian. Here is an insider's Italy, re-created by "one of the most gifted writers of his generation" (Jonathan Yardley, "The Washington Post")

30 review for An Italian Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aloke

    When Parks is at his best you'll be truly whisked into his hot, hilarious, frustrating, delicious, lost in translation Italian world. Following on from his Italian Neighbors, here he covers parenthood as he and his wife raise two kids, Michele and Stefi, in a town near Verona. As in the previous book we get lots of sketches of village life, flora, fauna and other characters like his new neighbors, the insurance salesman and his in-laws. There's also a fair amount of pointing out Italian foibles When Parks is at his best you'll be truly whisked into his hot, hilarious, frustrating, delicious, lost in translation Italian world. Following on from his Italian Neighbors, here he covers parenthood as he and his wife raise two kids, Michele and Stefi, in a town near Verona. As in the previous book we get lots of sketches of village life, flora, fauna and other characters like his new neighbors, the insurance salesman and his in-laws. There's also a fair amount of pointing out Italian foibles (and worse), similar territory to that covered in Hooper's The Italians, but Parks takes a topic like sexism or religion and shows how it's woven into life. But it's generally good natured and he also takes time to savor what makes Italy great, food and drink obviously, less obviously a place where "Never is it easier to be oneself and relaxed about it than when you know exactly what is expected of you." It's also a very funny book, I laughed a lot more than with Italian Neighbors, and his kids' antics especially were rendered with perfect comedic timing. I think anyone raising kids, and especially dads, will get a kick out of this book. Finally, it's also an ode to the language Parks has adopted and his kids received as part of their Italian education (along with a bit of dialect Diobon!). It's filled with Italian words and phrases that you might never come across in your guidebook but you'll be itching to use on your next visit or what the hell -facciamo le corna—why not right now, out loud, in your living room or on the F train? And of course (since Parks also moonlights as a translator) he faithfully translates everything so you will learn that segheria means sawmill, a tartarughina is a baby turtle and the endlessly useful sai com’è? means well... you know how it is?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Italian lullabies, like "Ninna Nonna, Ninna O / Questo bimbo, a chi lo do?" Nap my gramma, nap OH, This baby, to whom shall I give? Or Italian recipes, rather imaginative ones (111). Wonderful on Italian contradictions: the assumption that all workers are shiftless, whereas all thieves are most efficient, competent. Then, public speaking, always read off cards or prompters: no merit here to speaking or thinking on one's feet. However great Italians perform in private, they plod in public. Italian lullabies, like "Ninna Nonna, Ninna O / Questo bimbo, a chi lo do?" Nap my gramma, nap OH, This baby, to whom shall I give? Or Italian recipes, rather imaginative ones (111). Wonderful on Italian contradictions: the assumption that all workers are shiftless, whereas all thieves are most efficient, competent. Then, public speaking, always read off cards or prompters: no merit here to speaking or thinking on one's feet. However great Italians perform in private, they plod in public. Proudly. (Doubtless the effect of plodding schooling, I add, having watched my grandkids grow in Milan. Latin and Greek at classical public HS: 160 forms of the Greek verb. Any real translation? No. ) So much Italian education, for a century, has emphasized orthodox ideas expressed in extravagant, exhortatory, prideful tone. The same in 1915 women's textbooks, 1938 fascist eulogy, and in 1996, Gino d'Arezzo's poem on the New Man. Many Italian cultural mysteries enter into this book, usually through the author's ironic lens. Medusa. The Certificato di verginità, etc. I have quoted Tim Parks whenever I joined a discussion of English Composition as a Department Chair, or nationally: In the 30's in Italy, the criterion of judging "good composition" was, How well does the student praise Mussolini? (One priest in Treviso I think, just praised M on the 70th anniversary of his death. That priest was hoping for a promotion--in the 30's.) The point is: English Composition has always been judged by extraneous criteria. Parks's It Ed is revealing, and well told. By the way, Tim Parks just delivered the Traverso Italian Studies lecture at SUNY-New Paltz that I gave in 2013, on my usual current subject, Giordano Bruno.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    There is nothing as eye opening as bringing up your children abroad. Your children, who obviously are your flesh and blood, and who, by an assumed definition should in large part become like you, slowly and inevitably grow up to assume an identity that is not like yours... Children adopt the ways of both their parents obviously, but also the ways of their teachers, carers, people from TV, friends and neighbours, and whereas grown-ups choose which of the new ways suit them, children become them There is nothing as eye opening as bringing up your children abroad. Your children, who obviously are your flesh and blood, and who, by an assumed definition should in large part become like you, slowly and inevitably grow up to assume an identity that is not like yours... Children adopt the ways of both their parents obviously, but also the ways of their teachers, carers, people from TV, friends and neighbours, and whereas grown-ups choose which of the new ways suit them, children become them instead, in ways that a grownups never could…. This is a main theme of ”Italian education”. Tim Parks, is an Englishman who sets up a family in italy. He is well integrated in the italian society, he commands the language, works as a translator, his wife is Italian, and he lives an italian lifestyle, and still he watches the process with something of an amazement. With an admirable self-distance and a sense of humor he keeps asking himself - when did they become italian? At what point exactly did the transformation take place? What events, and whose influence made them into the individuals that they became? For me, who had done just that - built a family in another country - the process is fascinating. My son brought up in Sweden is Swedish. I, having lived here for 25 years am not, really.... You might think that it is naive of me to have expected anything else, and yet, I can not help being surprised. As I guess is Tim Parker. I admire his power of observation and balanced way of seeing the italian world around him. I know that living in another country is not always easy. Loving it, obviously helps, but only some of the local customs are admirable or lovely, some you accept reluctantly, and some are inevitably silly, annoying, or completely unacceptable. And all of them, regardless of what you think of them, will become a part of the starter-kit, that your child will be equipped with for life…. So yes, it is complicated however you look at it, but at the same time, it is also a perfect opportunity to create the most true picture of Italy. It is true, because it is not one-sided like a view of a tourist who is never really exposed to the local ways, and it is not too forgiving, as it tends to be in the eyes of a ”local”, instead it is carefully observed and noted, weighed and analysed, against the need of a parent to give his children all the best in life. My sincere admiration and thanks to Mr Parker for this truest picture of a country I am a bit in love with myself, but that I will never be able to see, from this point of view.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Wasn't a big fan of this book. Yes it had its good points but for the most part it was boring.

  5. 5 out of 5

    June

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but will say two things...I had already read the author's previous book, Italian Neighbours..in which he and his italian wife buy a flat in a village, and come up against/ make friends with a cast of characters who I instantly I fell in love with. And right at the beginning of this book he talks about childhood experiences of visiting the seaside in Blackpool, which happens to be my home town; so as far as I am concerned Tim Parks can do no wrong...! In this volume I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but will say two things...I had already read the author's previous book, Italian Neighbours..in which he and his italian wife buy a flat in a village, and come up against/ make friends with a cast of characters who I instantly I fell in love with. And right at the beginning of this book he talks about childhood experiences of visiting the seaside in Blackpool, which happens to be my home town; so as far as I am concerned Tim Parks can do no wrong...! In this volume the Parks family starts to expand and the author encounters some interesting cultural differences between his British upbringing, and the Italian approach to child-rearing. He learns about the school system,the function of grandparents in Italy,the importance of 'la Mamma'..... and sees how his own children are becoming thoroughly Italian.. For a few hours at least I immersed myself in all things italian..a great antidote to the rain outside my english window..

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I read this in lieu of Italian Neighbors (a book club pick), which my library does not have. Inexpicably, they did have this book, which is the sequel. I expected a travelogue, along the lines of "A Year in Provence". This book was much better. It is the 7 year story of an Englishman and his Italian wife raising their children in Italy. It involves the education of Tim Parks in all ways Italian, as well as the education of his two children, Michele and Sofi. It was like being a fly on the wall I read this in lieu of Italian Neighbors (a book club pick), which my library does not have. Inexpicably, they did have this book, which is the sequel. I expected a travelogue, along the lines of "A Year in Provence". This book was much better. It is the 7 year story of an Englishman and his Italian wife raising their children in Italy. It involves the education of Tim Parks in all ways Italian, as well as the education of his two children, Michele and Sofi. It was like being a fly on the wall of their home, their trips to the beach, their outings and their visits with grandparents. I learned much about the culture of the Italian people and how they raise their children, from an author who did not grow up Italian, and it was very entertaining. Humorous. Well-woven. Recommended. P.S. I had no need to read the first book to thoroughly enjoy the second one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marta

    An absolutely phenomenal portrayal of Italian lifestyle, mentality and society. As an Italian who has lived in the U.K for over 6 years now, I have laughed and reflected on everything Tim Parks raises in this collection of essays, which I have dipped in and out of during these busy months. I have also thoroughly enjoyed his out-take and literal translation of Italian nursery rhymes, proverbs, and swear words; in light of recent global events, seeing yourself through the eyes of a foreigner is a An absolutely phenomenal portrayal of Italian lifestyle, mentality and society. As an Italian who has lived in the U.K for over 6 years now, I have laughed and reflected on everything Tim Parks raises in this collection of essays, which I have dipped in and out of during these busy months. I have also thoroughly enjoyed his out-take and literal translation of Italian nursery rhymes, proverbs, and swear words; in light of recent global events, seeing yourself through the eyes of a foreigner is a valuable experience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    Basically boring. Didn't like it the first time and it didn't improve for me when I was rereading it before heading to Italy. Skimmed through for hints.

  9. 4 out of 5

    magdalena dyjas

    3.5, ok, 3.49, not enough for 4 stars... By the way, it's like reading about my school days back in the early 90s. I read this book few years ago, but once again I've been surprised how similar Italian and Polish upbringings are. Or shall I say "were, 30 years ago"? I know that Poland is currently going backwards as far as the influence of church on every single aspect of life is concerned, I don't think Italians are following the same path. But although the two nations might've gone separate 3.5, ok, 3.49, not enough for 4 stars... By the way, it's like reading about my school days back in the early 90s. I read this book few years ago, but once again I've been surprised how similar Italian and Polish upbringings are. Or shall I say "were, 30 years ago"? I know that Poland is currently going backwards as far as the influence of church on every single aspect of life is concerned, I don't think Italians are following the same path. But although the two nations might've gone separate ways in terms of church's impact on the society, the role of mother in children's life may be that one thing that still unites Polish and Italian people. Or that's my gut feeling. It would be interesting to read about Italian and Polish education and childhood as they are now, to see what's changed, if anything...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    As a fellow Brit who has spent some time living in Italy, married and Italian and raised bilingual kids a lot of this is familiar to me. I’m not sure how it would come across to anyone not in a similar situation. It’s a bit too long, and I could have done without the couple of chapters offering close textual analysis of Italian lullabies. There’s also the danger, as always with this kind of book, that the observations are relevant to a specific time and place, and that Italians from other As a fellow Brit who has spent some time living in Italy, married and Italian and raised bilingual kids a lot of this is familiar to me. I’m not sure how it would come across to anyone not in a similar situation. It’s a bit too long, and I could have done without the couple of chapters offering close textual analysis of Italian lullabies. There’s also the danger, as always with this kind of book, that the observations are relevant to a specific time and place, and that Italians from other regions, or of more recent generations, may beg to differ. However a lot of it is spot on, such as the parents’ paradoxical combination of ‘health and safety’ paranoia and letting the kids get away with whatever they want and spoiling them rotten. Or maybe that’s not so specifically Italian any more...?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book was an interesting and enjoyable read, although there is an undertone of smug criticism of Italy and Italians throughout the book-- a bit odd since the author is married to an Italian and has lived in Italy for a decade or two. I guess he's a bit like a teenage boy with a big crush that he can't quite seem to admit to, so he criticizes his beloved instead. At any rate, if you are interested in reading a reasonable and well-written (if a little self-indulgent) account of what it is like This book was an interesting and enjoyable read, although there is an undertone of smug criticism of Italy and Italians throughout the book-- a bit odd since the author is married to an Italian and has lived in Italy for a decade or two. I guess he's a bit like a teenage boy with a big crush that he can't quite seem to admit to, so he criticizes his beloved instead. At any rate, if you are interested in reading a reasonable and well-written (if a little self-indulgent) account of what it is like to live in Italy, or at least a small town in the Veneto, this book is a good place to start.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dana Delamar

    Very enjoyable book by Tim Parks about what it's like to raise children in Italy. Parks paints a vibrant picture of Italian life in all its mundanity and glory, contrasting it at times to his own childhood in England. I've already ordered his other two books about living in Italy. I very much enjoyed his voice.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barry Lillie

    hard going, droll and lacklustre writing

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    A nice and easy summer read which will make you laugh and reflect on what’s an italian way of bringing up kids. Maybe a bit dated but still fun (and bittersweet) to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Viviana Rizzetto

    Nothing great - not bad. I'd say it feels accurate enough, if one keeps in mind that the events took place in 1982 or so. It seems likely that Parks would make some things a little more colourful (also he apparently didn't meet one normal person in the whole town?) but the characters he describes can be found in Italy and his musings about politics, contradictions and bureaucracy are correct as far as I know. So if you're not Italian and you want to find out about everyday life (in general, not Nothing great - not bad. I'd say it feels accurate enough, if one keeps in mind that the events took place in 1982 or so. It seems likely that Parks would make some things a little more colourful (also he apparently didn't meet one normal person in the whole town?) but the characters he describes can be found in Italy and his musings about politics, contradictions and bureaucracy are correct as far as I know. So if you're not Italian and you want to find out about everyday life (in general, not the one you would find in 2017) this is a valid book. (Not incredibly meaningful though, hence my vote.) If you're Italian and you're curious about what your country would look like from a foreigner's point of view, this book will only give you a rather confusing answer. The point is: Parks clearly writes for his British readers. He expects them to share his point of view about what's normal and what's weird, so that he doesn't really explain why certain things are so amusing to him. The result for me was that, while he certainly criticizes things that deserve to be criticized (and in his astonishment for the very existence of some of those things, many Italians would find great relief), he doesn't actually seem to like anything. He correctly describes the cons but he doesn't seem to find any pros. What he doesn't criticize, he examines in an amused, condescending way. I was surprised to find out that having a tidy/nice house is somehow ridiculous - British people don't care so much about it. They don't care about graveyards or gardens or cars, either. Italians are very, maybe too much concerned about the appearance of things. Okay: I've read this argument before. So it's probably true: what I consider a standard and normal concern for order could be perceived as excessive in other countries. This is the kind of insight I wanted, but I was surprised again when he mockingly described the rural conditions of certain areas, or seemed to criticize the state in which their favourite pond was kept, and so on. There must be something I'm missing. There probably is a middle ground Italians don't get - maybe only British do? He writes about the charming countryside (ruined by factories, of course) and the refreshingly naive life of the town (ignorant and rural, of course) and he also seems to love his breakfast. But all in all, there's not much left to like, apparently. He doesn't like the nearby city, Vicenza, too consumistic and crowded from what I gather - he doesn't seem to care for art or history, which is good, we have enough books about that. But he's also amused by the habits and the lifestyle, the food, the relationships... He's certainly entitled to be, I'm only puzzled at what made him appreciate his life there, because there is nothing in this book of what I hold as the pros of living in Italy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dario

    An interesting and often humorous portrayal of life in Italy. As an Italian, I could relate to many of the quirks, social situations, and settings that Parks details throughout. I do however believe that you’d have to be either an Italian fluent in English or someone who has lived in Italy for a long time, to “get” and fully appreciate this book. I can’t see an Italian language student who has only been to Italy once or the fifty-year-old reader who has always wanted to visit Italy to enjoy this An interesting and often humorous portrayal of life in Italy. As an Italian, I could relate to many of the quirks, social situations, and settings that Parks details throughout. I do however believe that you’d have to be either an Italian fluent in English or someone who has lived in Italy for a long time, to “get” and fully appreciate this book. I can’t see an Italian language student who has only been to Italy once or the fifty-year-old reader who has always wanted to visit Italy to enjoy this and understand or relate to everything described here. But fair play to Parks (who is primarily a translator of Italian books into English, and a professor in translations studies) for trying. It’s worth mentioning that this book is an accurate portrayal of what living in Italy could be like for some. The book is set for the most part in Montecchio Maggiore, a town currently with a population of 23,000 that is in the north-east of Italy. Had Parks lived in Tuscany, or Rome, or Bologna, or Turin, or Napoli, or Sicily, or anywhere else in Italy, I am certain this could have been, in some parts, a much different book. This book is also a reminder that parenting is really difficult - whether you are living in Italy or anywhere else in the world.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I Love, Love, Love, Love, Love this book! I enjoy the way the author describes the people he encounters and the culture he experiences! I catch myself laughing out loud in recognition of a situation or understanding of a particular situation in a far away land, or just at the situation itself. Tim Parks, otherwise known as Meester Teem, takes the reader on the journey of raising children in Italy, asks of himself "when do children become Italian" while evaluating the socialization of his own I Love, Love, Love, Love, Love this book! I enjoy the way the author describes the people he encounters and the culture he experiences! I catch myself laughing out loud in recognition of a situation or understanding of a particular situation in a far away land, or just at the situation itself. Tim Parks, otherwise known as Meester Teem, takes the reader on the journey of raising children in Italy, asks of himself "when do children become Italian" while evaluating the socialization of his own children, and reveals that every day he, too, is learning to become Italian. 'Faciamo le corna' is my favorite chapter so far. \m/ \m/

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chesapeake Bae

    Don't bother. Park's first book offered charming insights to Italian culture. This tome blithers on about family and neighbors. Nothing new here except a few days at school and the recent history of fascism unable to lay its weary head. His children are both Italian and British. So what?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Merritt Corrigan

    This book was pleasant as a pastry. Tim Parks has such a dry sense of humor, and a profound insight into the Italian psyche. A delightful account of raising children in Italy. Funny, fascinating, and charming!

  20. 4 out of 5

    George Moody

    This is a charming account of Italian childhood from an Englishman’s perspective. Parks is English, but his three children were born and raised in Italy where he lives with his Italian wife. This positions him well to draw out the differences to his own English upbringing, and English attitudes to childrearing, while also giving a solid sense of the wonders of an Italian childhood. The central theme – a good one – is observing how children grow up to be of their nationality. Parks watches as his This is a charming account of Italian childhood from an Englishman’s perspective. Parks is English, but his three children were born and raised in Italy where he lives with his Italian wife. This positions him well to draw out the differences to his own English upbringing, and English attitudes to childrearing, while also giving a solid sense of the wonders of an Italian childhood. The central theme – a good one – is observing how children grow up to be of their nationality. Parks watches as his children grow up to be Italian, and gives a sequential series of vignettes illustrating some of the most noticeable and interesting differences and developments – for example, the children’s developing an intuitive sense of how rules work in Italy, that Parks himself will never have. I liked this a lot, and I suspect it’s something any parent of young children will find interesting, as we are all bringing up children in a different environment to our own childhood. I’m a northern born man raising southern children, but even if you stay in the same place, time has passed and the experience of childhood has changed with it. The book starts with a strong structure, with each chapter narrating an experience that brings out the meaning of the Italian phrase used as the chapter title. So the chapter ‘Facciamo le corna’ explains the full cultural use of the phrase ‘let’s make horns’ (to ward of bad luck) through an account of an insurance agent coming to Parks’ house to discuss various forms of insurance he might need with a now expanding family. This works well and it was interesting to see an Italian based Englishman explaining the context needed to understand the literal language. The last few chapters of the book cover Parks holidaying in Pescara at his in-laws place, while his pregnant wife remains at home. He brings the heat and feel of Italian beach resorts viscerally to life, but this has a different pace to rest of the book, with much more of the routine and day to day small events of life. It remains charming and brings out the significance of all these little things for small children, but it did bring to the fore the overall meandering nature of the book and lack of a strong focus. Entertaining and often humorous An Italian Education meanders a little, and towards the end becomes a bit too wedded to the quotidian happenings of a holiday in Pescara. Less focused than his Italian Ways – the only other of his non-fiction books I have read so far - I found Parks interesting and entertaining company throughout. I’ve added his earlier Italian Neighbours to my to-read list.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dana Nucera

    I have mixed feelings about this book. And I think it has something to do with the fact that I am Italian. As the book starts out I found it interesting to hear about the true, everyday life of Italians in Italy. I have never been to Italy, so of course it was informative. It was written from the viewpoint of a British guy that has been living in Italy for about 12 years. He is fascinated by the Italians and he does convey the culture well, but at some point I felt like he was describing some I have mixed feelings about this book. And I think it has something to do with the fact that I am Italian. As the book starts out I found it interesting to hear about the true, everyday life of Italians in Italy. I have never been to Italy, so of course it was informative. It was written from the viewpoint of a British guy that has been living in Italy for about 12 years. He is fascinated by the Italians and he does convey the culture well, but at some point I felt like he was describing some kind of oddity of animal in a zoo. The book was just an endless run on of simple everyday things that happen in life. Nothing crazy or odd, just simple everyday things. It started to feel like I was reading the author's diary....and not a very interesting one at that. If you did not know it was Italy, it could have been any town, anywhere. Parents that spoil their children, grandparents that babysit, acquiring material possessions for status, etc. That pretty much happens anywhere. Unfortunately I did not finish the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Msimone

    This book is a follow up to "Italian Neighbors" and it continues to describe the author's interactions with the Italian community he has acquired through marriage and fatherhood. . As usual, the stories of his daily experiences as he navigates living in Italy are so insightful about how Italian customs and perspectives define social behaviors in ways unlike his own. The author is a British expat observing how things are in Italy as an outsider who loves his newly adopted home, but recognizes This book is a follow up to "Italian Neighbors" and it continues to describe the author's interactions with the Italian community he has acquired through marriage and fatherhood. . As usual, the stories of his daily experiences as he navigates living in Italy are so insightful about how Italian customs and perspectives define social behaviors in ways unlike his own. The author is a British expat observing how things are in Italy as an outsider who loves his newly adopted home, but recognizes its idosycrancies and socio-cultural disconnects and maneuver through them. There are so many delightful accounts about the intersection of his personal life with neighbors and family that reveal so much about the culture uniqueness of lifestyle in Italy. Anyone who has ever thought about relocating to Italy for work or love would enjoy the many ways that Tim Parks learns how things really work there. Dopo avere letto questo libro, Saprai come e in Italia !

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Parks’ insights about Italian family life are hard won. He gains his understanding by observing first hand as a father raising children, and a son-in-law coping with relationships that are bewildering to a British academic. I found his conclusions about the roles of mothers, sacrifice in parenting, and schooling thought provoking. I didn’t enjoy all of the detail about coping wth everyday life as much as the observations about parenting. He writes very little about his wife who remains on the Parks’ insights about Italian family life are hard won. He gains his understanding by observing first hand as a father raising children, and a son-in-law coping with relationships that are bewildering to a British academic. I found his conclusions about the roles of mothers, sacrifice in parenting, and schooling thought provoking. I didn’t enjoy all of the detail about coping wth everyday life as much as the observations about parenting. He writes very little about his wife who remains on the periphery of the book. It is a good read; humorous and informative. I kept wondering if the spoiling of Italian children, and then the expectation that parents will pay for them their entire life is similar to what we call Millenial incapability to “adult” in the US. Parks has novels and other non-fiction books about Italy to explore.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Annieclaus

    This is a book of short pieces on life in the Veneto and on the Adriatic coast of Italy. It's full of wonderful characters and Italian vernacular that heads each chapter. The chapters are short, some just a couple of pages, so you can pick this up and put it down whenever you have a few minutes. It's not going to win any awards (unless it did when it was published in 1995) but it's a charming look at a country I adore.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Barton

    If you have lived in Italy... ...this book will ring true and perhaps give words to phenomena you have observed but, like UFOs, could not explain. Parks’ insights and experiences are written in an approachable and often amusing manner. Great to pair with his prior book, “ Italian Neighbors.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Tim Parks' take on the education of his own two kids and of Italians in general from the early to mid-90s - while married and living in Montecchio near Verona - is at times hilarious and at others a sharp witty observation of a foreigner who longs to be Italian but still feels English at heart.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I didn't flat out love this as much as I loved "Italian Neighbors" and the one about the trains. But I did really enjoy it - his writing is fantastic, hilarious, detailed, and spot-on about Italian life and Italians themselves.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    a little slow at times but very enjoyable..especially the trip to the gravel pit for fishing and his week alone with the cjildren at the beach

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janie

    Just finished reading this wonderful book filled with culture and humor. The author takes you on a whirlwind of everyday Italian life of his growing family.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dianne Bortoletto

    Anything set in Italy usually gets a high rating from me

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