Book 2: La Bella Lingua

This week I read: La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales.

It’s about the author’s love affair with the Italian language, what she calls, “the most enchanting language in the world.” And it’s a slightly different tale of foreigner falling in love with a European country, because this one features the romantic, as well as the factual. Hales’ knowledge on all things Italian is remarkable – well researched, and well lived.

I was drawn to the book because of my own background; being fluent in Italian allowed a certain depth to the book – an understanding, you could say.

But La Bella Lingua isn’t just about language; it features a great deal of Italian history too. Dispersed amongst both language and history are personal stories from Hales – most of them joyous and all of them warm and endearing. The entire book is about Italian culture – and how language plays a part in it; in literature, food, film, music, people.

And it’s about Hales’ journey – from admirer, to living like a true Italian.

Cheaper than a plane ticket, and more informative (and engaging) than a documentary, it’s a celebration of la dolce vita (the sweet life) and le cose italiane (Italian things).

Book 1: Summer at Tiffany

One thing I resolved to do this year was read a book a week.

I’ve always loved reading. And as a writer, reading is imperative. Reading as much as you can. Whenever you can. And a good mix of it too.

I strongly believe that if you want to write well, you need to read well. In fact, if you want to think well, you need to read well.

And so I plan to share, each week, the book that I have read, and a short review of what I thought, or felt, liked or didn’t like.

This week I read: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart.

It was fun. Joyful. Innocent. A romp of a memoir about a couple of college pals from Iowa that head to New York City in the 1940s and get a Summer job at Tiffany’s – at a time when Tiffany only employed men.

Hart, now in her 80s, reflects upon the best Summer of her life – with her best friend by her side, they navigate their way through a new city – the opportunities, the challenges, the boys, the stores bursting with things they want most – cosmetics, hats, gloves and designer dresses – and life, in a post-war country.

It’s the kind of story, all entirely true might I add, that makes you want to switch eras. Hart’s charming account of her Summer of 1945 is romantic – it presents the city, the people, the time, Tiffany – through peachy pink coloured glasses. And the reason I suspect she presented such an account is because it was accurate – the New York she describes is hopeful and engrossing, the people gentle and friendly, and the time – tough, but utterly glorious, and wholly full of promise.