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Tuscany for Beginners: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 336 pages

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Five years after discovering her philandering husband in flagrante delicto, Belinda Smith is living la dolce vita as the proprietor of a B and B deep in the heart of Tuscany, where, surrounded by a contingent of fellow British expats, she reigns as the valley's self-appointed contessa. With her hastily--and cheaply--remodeled villa more downtrodden than upmarket, her decorating style more Oscar Madison than Martha Stewart, and her hostessing skills more Marquis de Sade than Relais et Chateaux, Belinda just may be the most inhospitable hotelier since Basil Fawlty. Throw in her long-suffering daughter, Mary, playing Cinderella to Belinda's wicked-stepmotherish personae, and the pieces are in place for Belinda to receive a royal comeuppance. Enter Lauren, a svelte, savvy, sophisticated American widow who buys a neighboring villa and opens a rival B and B. That's bad enough, but when Lauren's son falls for Belinda's daughter, mamma mia, the fur really flies! British novelist Edwards-Jones makes a boisterous American debut with this bawdy, bewitching comedy of ill-manners. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Absolutely hysterical. I could not put it down.”
–Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1292 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 10, 2008)
  • Publication Date: December 10, 2008
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NJUP5W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,360 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
I found my self smirking and actually laughing out loud several times during the reading of this one. The author is quite insightful and certainly has great ability in being able to express herself in a very humerous way. The author uses a very easy reading sytle, perfect and appropriate syntax and is obviously a born story teller. Being somewhat into food, and having a wife who is beyond expert in the art of cooking, I enjoyed the inserted recipes throughout the book. If you are looking for a good, funny, relaxing read, then this one is for you. Recommend it highly.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on March 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this very humorous book about a snobbish and overbearing B&B owner in Tuscany. The book alternates between Belinda's diary entries - her version of what her life is like - and what her life is really like. The difference is really funny.

The other characters in the book are great as well - from Belinda's timid daughter Mary, to the resident writer who does more drinking than writing, to the brash American who opens up a rival B&B. While they may sound stereotypical, the characters are not one-dimentional and they work really well in this story.

To add to the enjoyment of the book, Belinda includes some really delicious Italian recipes in her journal as well.

If you want a bit of well written fun, you will like this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. V. Malcolm on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Truly one of the funniest books I've read in a long, long time. If you're a "Keeping Up Appearances" and an "Absolutely Fabulous" fan of British comedies, then you'll love this book.

Edgy, uproarious, hypocritical, snobbery-at-its-sneering-finest and hilarity are but a few of the words to describe this story. Imogen Edward-Jones really knows how to tackle obnoxious characters and make them "almost" likeable and even noteworthy. So if you're down in the dumps, pick up this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stacey M Smith VINE VOICE on May 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
You won't get a "Tuscan tour" a la Frances Mayes, or much locals insight like Peter Mayle. But you'll get a satirical enounter with a funny little gagle of ex-pats who have put a valley in Chianti on its ear.

I really enjoyed the authors style and tone. Her wordsmithing skill is breezy and fun - but the characters were irritating. Belinda, the main character, is so petty, self absorbed, and idiotic that it was a bit difficult to read past the first couple of chapters. I kept reading hoping that either she'd get a taste of her own medicine or divine intervention would provide her with a clue or conscience. I understood the tongue and cheek spin on the stereotypical nationalities - but it was almost way too over the top. It was difficult to find a character to like or relate to. The last several chapters were the best of the lot - the ending was suddenly serious, surprising and unrealistic, but good.

In general, the characters were so stuck in their ex-pat bubble - making every attempt to ignore the Italians - that you'd never know where they were if it weren't for them complaining about the Italians. I had hoped for a bit more (Italian) cultural depth or interactions with the ex-pats & locals.

The humorous bits were shiny and smart - a fun quick read for the beach - beware, it may put you off to b&bs..... or at least the hosts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A reader on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A funny, biting and very British satire about an English divorcee who moves to Tuscany and opens a B&B. The trouble is, the woman, named Belinda, is a self-absorbed, pretentious snob who hates the idea that she's in a "service industry," and actually has to allow people into her Tuscan home, called, all too accurately, "Casa Mia." When a tough, enterprising American woman buys a derelict property nearby with the intention of opening her own B&B, threatening the reign of the little valley's self-appointed "contessa," the fur really starts to fly.

What I particularly liked about this entertaining but less-than-great book is its wicked take-off on the insufferable Frances Mayes and her endless effusions about the "marvelousness" (one of Jones' favorite words) of her life in Tuscany. The diary entries, in which Belinda pretties up her own life to the point where it's practically unrecognizable as the realities the author presents in alternating chapters of the narrative, are particularly wonderful satires on Mayes' smug pretentiousness. And the haphazard recipes the author gives at the end of each "diary" section are hilariously on-target jabs at the recipes the infinitely self-satisfied Mayes offers at the end of HER chapters of "Under the Tuscan Sun."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Salsini on August 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a satire on Frances Mayes or a satire on bad writing. If it's the latter, it's a classic. All of the characters are either unlikable or stupid, sometimes both. The "plot" is predictable. The pace is turgid. Not to mention the details -- does she not know the difference between "blond" and "blonde"? Does she not know that England might have village greens but Italy has piazzas? Is the Italian's name Franco or Gianfranco? Why does she use present tense throughout? And why does she write her attributions backward -- "says Belinda," "says Kyle," "says Howard" get to be very tedious. This could have been a delightful romp. Instead, a reader finishes wondering why he put all the effort slogging through it.
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