I wanted to like this audiobook. I really tried.
We've loved Italy--Tuscany especially--since our first journey to Siena some years ago. In this novel I wanted vivid and memorable imagery, seasoned with bits of the discernable rhythm of spoken Italian; to feel the heat reflected among the ageing stucco-and-rock buildings toe to toe along the winding lanes; to smile at the uneven gait of the peasant woman scavenging edibles from the Terraces while Frances and Ed enjoyed their slumber.
The prose was too fecund, the similes too mundane, to give life to the author's relentlessly ordinary personal observations. I admit, the phrasing was made less bearable for me by the actual sound of the author's voice. A strong but entirely defensible opinion here: standard written English isn't the same stuff as conversation, unless dialect or dialog is intended. To communicate audibly, one needs careful enunciation, appropriate emphasis, occasional alterations in cadence--to truly connect with the hearer. And, alas, it needs to be uttered in a relatively non-regional voice. The gentle lilt of a Georgia-Virginia-California diction amalgam is incredibly distracting from an otherwise adequate novel. Apply that voice to any Italian vocabulary (not really mimiced after seven years...) and the effect is beyond tedious.
I would purchase and hear Frances Mayes' books on Audible again, but only if presented by an adequate actor.
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