Sunday, April 11, 2010

Living in a Foreign Language - Michael Tucker


"You may have the universe, if I may have Italy," says Giuseppe Verdi, the 19th century Italian composer. I have never been to Italy but I have loved everything about it ever since childhood (enough to try and learn the language) and now, having read among a number of things, this particular book, I can only assume Signor Verdi to be correct.

Micheal and Jill Tucker, a middle-aged actor couple from California sell their home and on a whim, move to Italy. In the hill town of Spoleto, Umbria, there is an old stone house called Rustico. It has a small hill of olive trees hugging it, orchards, woods and mountains. And it has their name on it. The Tuckers buy the place, pack up their Californian life and become, for all intents and purposes, Italians.

Much like Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, this book chronicles one year in the life of the Tuckers and it is engaging to read about their experiences with the weird, wonderful, addictive thing that is rural Italy. Along with them you learn to bake pizzas in a three hundred year old oven, love grappa, slow roast a piglet, fall into the habit of afternoon siestas, break your head over the renovation of the Rustico, make friends with the villagers and a jolly group of ex-patriots and generally endeavour to the good life the Italian way.

Perhaps in matter or form, Living in a Foreign Language does not differ all that much from the other memoirs and travelogues that are out there but Michael Tucker's style of narration makes all the difference. The man simply exudes vigour and zest for good friends, good food and all things Italian. Presiding over every line of his book, the one constant thing that is present from the dedication page to the last is his love for his wife Jill and it is a beautiful thing to behold. Not fictional, not dramatic but something very real existing about two very ordinary people. Many people have moved to Italy or France or some other equally fantastic part of Europe and have written about their experiences, but for me, there is something about Michael Tucker's book that draws me in and makes me read it over and over again. Mine is a well-thumbed copy. This man is so non-condescending, excited and thankful for his experiences and all of it has translated so well on to the pages. I sincerely believe that more than Peter Mayle's more famous book, this one has that spark, that X factor that makes travelogues and memoirs so enjoyable.

Do read the book, you will make two wonderful friends, Michael and Jill and take away a piece of that beautiful country with you.

14 comments:

Kals said...

I love most things Italian and this book sounds definitely enjoyable :) Good review!

Whitney said...

Living in a Foreign Language sounds like a gorgeous novel. What a lovely review.

bikerguy said...

haa...finally this book review :) well, ill keep the hidden history behind it between us. ;)

lovely review...your love for Italy and everything about it is something i am not very unfamiliar about, but i like the way you have focused on the love relationship between Michael and Jill. I love the way you have highlighted some fine points in the story...maybe that is because i was expecting you to write only about your favourite Italy but you have gone beyond that :P

anyways, great comment....congratulations :)

christa @ mental foodie said...

This sounds like something I'd enjoy, especially since I'm longing to go to Italy!

InABox said...

I'm completely fascinated by all things Italy. It seems such a romantic place, full of wonder and relaxation. Living in a Foreign Language sounds like a good substitute until I (hopefully, someday) get to visit.

If you'll send me your email address (mine's whatinabox at gmail dot com), I'll email you some futuristic sci-fi recommendations. I didn't want to list them here since none of them have anything to do with Italy. :-)

Hannah Stoneham said...

Sounds great - and particuarly interesting for me as I am living for a year in France right now - so i am in the zone when it comes to this kind of literature!

Great post thanks for sharing

Hannah

Birdy said...

I read Mayle's A Year in Provence and I absolutely loved it! I am sure this will be a wonderful read as well, from the looks of it :)

nishitak said...

there is an award for you up on my blog :)

Vaishnavi said...

@Kals - Thanks a lot! I am sure you will enjoy this one..

@Whitney - Thanks a lot, I enjoyed a lot whie reading this one and didn't want it to end at all :)

@Avi - Thanks....and haha about the typo :)

@Christie - Welcome here! I am longing too! Longing, longing, longing :) Read the book, you will enjoy it for sure.

@InaBox - Thanks so much! I shall mail you :) Yeah this book is a good substitute, I have a few more lined up actually :)

@Hannah - Lucky you! :) This is something that the rest of us only dream about :) You will be able to relate to this one then :)

@Birdy - Welcome here! I liked Mayle's book a lot but somehow liked this one better :)

Vaishnavi said...

@Christa - I am sorry for the typo concerning your name! My apologies...

Pavi said...

Hey I read this long back but dint wanna comment and u know why ;-)anyways I find this book very charming in some way..your review is very pleasant and the book seems to be so too:) good one..Keep writing!!

Vaishnavi said...

@Pavi - You can borrow this from me any time! I think you will like it a lot, there is some lovely cooking stuff mentioned in it!

SoulMuser said...

Wow. This sounds like a book that would get my out of my reading rut! Wonderful review, wonderful blog! :-)

Vaishnavi said...

@SoulMuser - Thanks and welcome here! This book would definitely refresh you I think :)