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At Least You're in Tuscany Paperback – January 1, 2014
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"If you're dreaming of making a move to Italy one day, or simply enjoy reading expat tales, I'd highly recommend At Least You're in Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell. It's a tale not only about life in Tuscany but also about having the determination to follow your heart's desires - no matter what challenges life throws your way!" - Laura Thayer, Ciao Amalfi!
"An honest, funny, and compulsively readable account of one woman's quest to live the Tuscan dream." - Signe Pike, author of Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World
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Top Customer Reviews
Criswell's dream of sipping espresso on an Italian balcony while writing best selling novels, overlooking rolling Tuscan hills, is brought crashing down to earth through a series of hilarious (and occasionally heartbreaking) experiences as real life intervenes. No one tells you that you may well have to wait forever to get citizenship; that you will be required to increasingly ration tinned food as a direct result of the aforementioned citizenship wait (because no one will give you a job); that doing laundry in Europe can sometimes mean risking your life; and that the allure of living in a idyllic Italian town wears off quickly when it turns out the whole town is talking about you.
Criswell recounts her tales of triumph and woe with a brutal honesty that is often hilarious - I laughed out loud on a number of occasions. She is such an endearing heroine because she tries so desperately to look on the bright side of an increasingly demoralising series of events, and it is her optimism that eventually brings her out on the other side. I cheered for her as she defiantly faced even the worst experiences with an upbeat 'well, at least you're in Tuscany'.
Yes, hitting rock bottom in Tuscany is indeed that bit better than hitting rock bottom anywhere else, and that's why I found Jennifer's story so entertaining. Even after a series of events that would have made any normal person pack their bags and get back on a plane in defeat, Criswell's Tuscan dream never dies. She adapts the dream to realities of life, makes it her own and, to her credit, is still living it.
'Mi sono appena trasferita a Montepulciano.' I've just moved to Montepulciano, I smiled, resisting the urge to apologize for my horrible Italian.
'Perche?' he asked, looking genuinely puzzled. I'd fielded this question a lot in February when I'd said I was moving here. Locals seemed bewildered that anyone would want to come and live in their town.
'Sono scrittrice.' I told him. I'm a writer. Then I added, 'Cercavo pace.' I was looking for peace. This didn't begin to express all the reasons why I loved Italy, but it was all I could manage. I would have liked to explain that I was supposed to be here, but I didn't know exactly how to say that, which is just as well because I probably seemed kooky enough already.
'Ma per sempre?' he insisted.
Yes, I told him, I was planning to be here forever. He looked at me speculatively, then extended his hand to welcome me and introduce himself: 'Benvenuta! Sono Stefano.'"
This is an example of how Jennifer Criswell writes. She's honest, sincere, and very down to earth. Her tale of being an ex-pat isn't like those others where someone with a lot of money buys an old farm house to renovate and moans and groans about carpenters not showing up, or water heaters not heating the water, or being unable to get over the usual bureaucratic pitfalls they inevitably have. No. Jenny, as the locals come to call her, tells the reader just what it's like to hunt for an affordable apartment to rent, wait for most of her belongings to be mailed from New York City to Montepulciano, run frighteningly low on funds, worry about getting a job (any job), and has to eat canned tuna every day in order to survive.
Through it all, she manages to stay mostly lighthearted and optimistic. Jenny does find comfort in her best friend which happens to be her Weimaraner Cindy. Both girl and dog manage to win the hearts of Italians and other ex-pats alike. Jenny also is a pretty decent cook and enjoys baking brownies and other tasty treats for her new found friends.
I enjoyed this book and think others here looking for something that's light and entertaining will too. O...Jenny writes a blog with more of her interesting adventures in and thoughts about living in Italy. Look her up. 4 Stars