An adventure of the heart in the mold of literature's classic spiritual journeys.
It began with a girl. Then it was Italian food. After that it was books and discovering that even Mark Twain had fallen for Italy. E. M. Forster was smitten too: :Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land."
What is it about Italy and Italians?
Italian movies immortalize the mystique. Fellini called it La Dolce Vita. Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso took James Shaw back to the sweet memories of his childhood and the Italian family who operated the hometown theater. And just like in the movie, young James had an Alfredo who, by example, taught him about serving people.
James learned that Italians don't feel they're special. Luigi Barzini, author of The Italians, repeatedly asked, "Why are we the way we are?" and found no conclusive answer.
But James was convinced there was a reason why the Renaissance was born in Tuscany and Italy has given the world Saint Francis, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Galileo, and now Benigni, whose film, Life Is Beautiful, showed the world that the Italian zest for living can even make a heaven of a hell.
And so, after a lifetime of thinking about Italy, James became convinced that the way to find out why Italians are the way they are would be to eat with them at their kitchen tables. Day after day he picked their olives, and the Italians began treating him like family. And James began seeing their unique human quality that attracts people to Italy and keeps pulling them back again and again.
But the story doesn't end in the olive groves of Tuscany. To discover the heart of Italian life, James had to travel back to World War II Italy.
An Italian Journey will inspire you to follow your passions, your enthusiasms, to your own beautiful discoveries.
©2012 James Ernest Shaw (P)2015 James Ernest Shaw
I am confident that this book has wonderful appeal, as I can concur that Italy is a magnificent destination.
The problem I had was with the 'reader'. He exhibited no particular emotion and, for me, read the text as if he was on a time constraint......he raced through the book and I found his performance listless and uninspiring. I even fell asleep. Really disappointed.
Too much preaching and not enough about the country or the people. Would not recommend it. Narration was not good. Was expecting another Under The Tuscan Sun and was very disappointed.
Sandra Kase - In love with life & the people that comprise our global community, their cultures with traditions, customs, & our common bonds
Inspiring! Fascinating! Personal!
Listening to James Ernest Shaw, through audio, was as though he was sitting with me in my living room, sharing his experiences with me, capturing my attention to every word, waiting for his next story.
Each chapter, with the inspirational quotes as the lead-in, has given me so much pleasure and insight into Italy - the life, culture, and characteristics of the people and their relationship to their heritage and land with a spiritual connection to life and stewardship of all we are given in life.
An Italian Journey - My awakening to the heart of Italy!
I can't say enough about James Ernest Shaw and his revelations of his experiences in Italy! The book is my constant companion. As a reader who loves to hold copy in hand, turning every page, I must say I enjoyed the audio version immensely, as it was a "personal" experience with the author, likened to a friend relating their experience to me in friendly conversation. Well read, easily followed, pleasant voice that the listener could be drawn into the experience and feel it was their own! I would love to sit down at "table" and enjoy conversation with Mr. Shaw! I'm sure he has much more he can reveal!
Wow, what an aggravating, depressing listen this was, I listen to books while commuting and I thought it might be funny, but it ended up being mostly frustrating! I'm planning the journey of my life to Italy, and this book makes me want to stay away! Almost Nothing pleased her, makes Italy seem not worth going to, let alone with a disabled, hard to please mother! Sorry, but can I get my money back??
I loved hearing James tales of his experiences with the Italian people in his own words. He shares stories as well as his faith and I was very inspired by his journey and views. I even listened to some parts twice!!
I enjoyed this book immensely, thank you Mr. Shaw for sharing your experiences. I now want to be a woofer and meet Aurora. I especially enjoyed your post accident perspective and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, this book will be reread many times and will influence my perspective on life.
I loved the print book and recommended it to lots of my friends. Shaw's heart for Italy and his immersion in the lives of her small farmers reveals what common 'tourism' cannot. If you've not been to Italy, this book will make you want to go. And if you have been to Italy, you will want to go back and travel the country farm roads.
Shaw decided (in middle age, not a young man!) to travel Italy by bicycle, stopping to help family farms with their olive harvests. His only 'agenda' was to live with small farmers and work their groves, learning Italian and sitting at their tables. Every rise in the road and every person encountered added color to the portrait of Italian people he was painting.
While working on one of the farms, he agreed to 'help' rebuild an ancient stone wall. He ended up doing the job by himself, but found that he really felt the connection to the land, to its history, and to the Etruscan stonemasons of long ago who erected such a sturdy and substantial wall. His physical labor became a meditation for him.
The book is not one of action and high drama. There were no cliff-hangers or tear-jerkers. But Shaw's thankful and willing heart throughout the memoir shine through and give the reader the opportunity to view the world and its people with a similar attitude of gratitude. Shaw's Christian beliefs and worldview permeate his experiences, but he is never judgmental or preachy.
The only downside to an audio book is that the reader (hearer?) doesn't have the delightful drawings that open each chapter of the print version. But Shaw's descriptions of the landscape and his feelings about what he tells paint scenery in your mind.
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