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The Italian Teacher

Narrated by: Sam Alexander
Length: 9 hrs and 37 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award 2018

Rome, 1955.

The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome's historic villas, a party glitters with socialites and patrons. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. He is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot. 

From the side of the room watches little Pinch - their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, while Natalie faces her own wars with the art world. 

Trying to live up to his father's name - one of the 20th-century's fiercest and most controversial painters - Pinch never quite succeeds. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, he enacts an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy. 

What makes an artist? In The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of art and its demons. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of vulnerability and frustrated talent that - with his signature humour and humanity ­- challenges the very idea of greatness.

©2018 Tom Rachman (P)2018 Quercus Editions Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Deft characterisation, buoyant wit and imaginative richness." (Evening Standard)

"Masterful...slick, entertaining." (Guardian)

"Funny, poignant, occasionally breathtaking." (Financial Times)

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Profile Image for Lin Becker
  • Lin Becker
  • 05-30-18

Multi-dimensions of character all brought out

Tom Rachman is one of my all time favorite contemporary authors, starting with the Imperfectionists. The Italian Teacher is the first Rachman book I've listened to. For the first couple of chapters, it wasn't easy to get on board with Sam Alexander, the narrator. But from there on out, Alexander does a really good job of bringing to life a multitude of complex characters. He does really well with Charles, the Italian Teacher, the protagonist of the novel as he evolves from childhood, emotionally scarred by his dad, the famous painter, to a cowardly existence in adulthood. I really enjoyed the evolution of Charles through the narration. Rachman as always, has done a splendid job digging into the messy details of a character. In addition, he calls out the art world for what it truly is - how taste is made, manipulated and exploited to ensure that toilet bowls, sharks in tanks, polka dots, emojis and everything else in between can be art for sale.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for steve greensleaves
  • steve greensleaves
  • 11-18-19

One of the best

One of the best recent novels i have read or listened too - brilliant narrative arc, full of sensitively drawn interesting characters and plentiful well situated and witty observations

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  • Helena
  • 03-08-19

An engrossing story

Full of thought-provoking moments and engaging characters. Written with passion and insight. The world of the isolated artist is highlighted with skill.

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  • Mrs. S. J. Casson
  • 03-04-19

brilliance

A truly gorgeous novel, brilliantly written and Dickensian in it's core - gut wrenching in it's depiction of the artist and his surrounding world - I am smitten with Tom and off to read everything else he has touched - haven't been engulfed by a book as much since "The Goldfinch" - thoroughly recommended - oh and the narrator is bloody good too...

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  • Christopher
  • 04-17-18

Not very gripping

I must admit that I was a little dissapointed in the overall book.
The narration was very good but for me the story was a bit weak.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful