Friday, 29 May 2009

Living the Dolce Vita

I knew from the moment that I opened the envelope that this was a book I was going to enjoy, it combines travel writing with recipes and comes in a stunning looking package.

Bored with their current lives in Los Angles and looking for the next challenge Jason and Cathy find themselves deciding to relocate to Italy in order to run a olive grove after taking part in an olive oil tasting session at a Californian delicatessen.

As with 99% of re-locations it didn't go entirely smoothly. Everything seemed to move more slowly than the couple realised, from finding the perfect location right through to renovating the dream house once it was chosen. Italian builders and bureaucracy tried to derail the project and the suprise (but welcome) addition of a baby altered the plans still further.

Jason and Cathy quickly realised that looking after an olive grove was going to be more hard work and more costly than they had imagined at first, but rather than throw the towel in they hit on a wonderful idea to finance their dream: adoption.
Maps of the olive grove were drawn up listing each individual tree and then people were given the chance to pick their own tree to adopt. To make this even more special Cathy and Jason decided that as well as sponsoring a tree the produce from each tree would be sent to the adopter and so Nudo was born.

What I liked so much about this book was the positivity, even when everything seems to be going wrong for the entrepreneurs they remain hopeful and look for alternative solutions. They were more lucky than many who relocate as they had time, some money and also connections to start promoting their business but what shines through is their optimism and enthusiasm. The story is full of ups and downs and if something could go wrong is did seem to, but the couple deservedly win through.

The writing style of this book makes it easy to read, either all in one go or slowly dipping in and out. The writing is full of humour and self-deprication and is split up with beautiful photos and delicious sounding recipes. I haven't yet cooked anything from the book but the way my mouth watered as I read the book I know I will be trying to recreate the dolce vita in my Norfolk kitchen very soon.

My only problem with this book is where to shelve it, should it live in the kitchen with the cookbook or in the dining room with the travel books?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Why a blog?

I can't remember a time when I couldn't read, early memories involve the delightful Garden Gang books along with other classic Ladybird titles and also beautiful picture books by Racey Helps. Luckily my family have always encouraged my passion and it wasn't too long before I was collecting Enid Blyton books as fast as pocket money would allow.

The Puffin Book Club leaflets from school expanded my horizons and even now 25 years I can still remember the first books that I ordered:
Windsong Summer, Earthstar Magic, Little House on the Prairie and We Didn't Mean to go to Sea. Even at a young age I read eclectically! These first purchases really inspired a love of older 'classic' children's books which I still retain today as well as encouraging me to read unknown books by unknown authors - I can still clearly recall the plot of all four books.

Now I will still read pretty much anything written in the English language, although my main passion is for children's literature whether from the first golden age or from today. However I am blessed* with ability to read quickly and retain what I read so on average I read about 20 books a month from all genres.
Apart from kid lit my favourite genres are travel writing, biography, WW1 and WW2 history and fiction in general. Crime, horror and manga are the three areas that I struggle with the most but I do keep trying.

Why a blog? my aim with this venture into writing a blog rather than just reading them is to have a place to share my thoughts on some of what I read as well as keeping a reading record. It is also to help me think about why I like or dislike a book and having to put that into words will clarify that first emotional response into something more tangible, it is too easy to say I love/hate this book explaining why is the challenge.

* I say blessing but when it comes to travel it is more of a curse - last year I got through 16 adult novels in a 2 week break. Never try to lift one of my suitcases!