It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog blitz and sharing my review of Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria by Clare Pedrick: it’s available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, and also as an audio book (UK/US).
It often takes me longer than expected to read and review a book, but I think I’ve beaten my former record with this one – and I was SO pleased when Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources gave me the nudge I needed by inviting me to join in. Clare was my guest here on Being Anne way back in September 2015, a really lovely post where she told me all about her book and her life in Umbria – you can read it the post again here, with a rather shamefaced apology that my “I’ll read it very soon” turned into almost four years.
Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.
Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. “Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”
Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour.
It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.
Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.
By far the majority of my reading is made up by works of fiction – I can’t remember the last time I read either a memoir or autobiography, but I’m so glad I read this one. Quite beautifully written, the author takes you with her on her impulsive adventure, buying the dilapidated house she falls in love with, experiencing with her all the joys and challenges of her new life as a young single woman amid the traditional community that she brings so vividly to life.
Her own story is totally enchanting as establishes her new home in San Massano, fights off the advances of the local men and wrestles with Italian bureaucracy. But this book exceeded my every expectation in the way it brought to life the many characters she encounters – her supportive friends Angela and Ercolino (loved his outspoken opinions and his mangled English!), Tito the shopkeeper and his courting of Clara, the occasional villains, and the feuding mothers and their wonderful extended families whose lives she becomes part of.
And when she finally finds the boyfriend the whole community feel she needs so much, she chooses a man from Naples – to their total consternation. The romance is beautifully handled – a rather lovely old-fashioned courtship, but with a particularly rocky road to their final happy ending.
I really enjoyed the insights into life in rural Italy, the many cultural differences (and those things we have in common), and for a foodie and wine drinker this book is an absolute mouth-watering delight.
And I must say that this is a book that’s just crying out for a sequel – I’d love to know more about what happened later for Clare and Mario, and in the lives of the wonderful cast of characters whose company I so enjoyed. I thoroughly enjoyed this one…
With thanks to Clare and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer the chance to win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (open internationally): the winner can choose an audio code from either Audible or iBooks. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.
You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter. Read her blog about life in Umbria here.