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Tuscany for Beginners: A Novelby Imogen Edwards-Jones
Synopses & Reviews
This is the beginning of my fifth season in questo bellissimo valley—Val di Santa Caterina, Toscana—and although I have been here for quite a while, it is only now that I'm feeling quite pronto to write a diary and share my thoughts, and my ideas, and the little life lessons that I have gleaned from my very own corner of Paradiso.
And what a corner of Paradiso it is Val di Santa Caterina is one of those terribly beautiful unspoiled valleys in Toscana where the locals still farm, the land is still worked, and the Italians continue to live a simple peasant existence like they have done for hundreds of years. It is just too, too divine
We are also lucky enough to have a small, yet vibrant, expat community in the area, which-thankfully—consists mainly of us English, although there are a few Australians, some Belgians (who keep very much to themselves) and the odd German (whom everyone tries to avoid at all costs ). But the social life is mainly made up of us Brits, who are nearly all writers and painters or just artists in general.
My little spot, Casa Mia, is a very large, converted gentleman's country villa and has to be one of the most fortunato finds of one's lifetime Perched on top of the hill, handily near the road, it has been sensitively restored by an English developer, who has been living near Florence for seven years and very much knew what he was doing. With new terraces and a new sun-soaked terra-cotta roof, Casa Mia has vistas galore and none of the drawbacks of any of those very old properties. Also, because I used a developer, I was lucky enough to avoid all that well-known Italian inefficiency when it comes to doing up a house. I mean, why put oneself through the terrible hell of carpenters not arriving, plumbers overcharging, and all that, when you can get a place, move in more or less immediately, and set about putting in those little touches that make a villa a home?
And so, for the past few years I have enjoyed welcoming guests into my lovely casa. It gives me great joy to share my little corner of Paradiso with visitors from all over the world. I enjoy being generous with my views, my villa, my little bit of heaven on earth where the birds sing and the sunflowers grow.
As I said, this is my fifth season, and I must confess that I feel ever so much at home here. It is lovely, really, how much the people have taken me to their hearts. I am very much part of the comunitàagrave;. Some would say an essential part of it At the risk of blowing my own trumpet (which would be very unattractive), I can safely say that nothing really happens here without me or my highly motivational involvement Quite what everyone did before I arrived, I shall never know
Only last night at supper at Giovanna's (our local ristorante), Derek took my hand and announced to the table that from now on everyone should call me La Contessa of the Valley. It was terribly sweet of him, but after the way I ran last year's panto, I did rather reluctantly have to agree. In fact, the more we discussed my achievements in the valley, the more we all agreed that it was such a terribly good name. So La Contessa di Val di Santa Caterina it is, then What a mouthful I wonder if it will ever catch on?
But there are more pressing matters at hand. My daughter is arriving this afternoon. There is much to do. Casa Mia is in need of a good spring
Leaving the rainy town of Tilling, England, and her unfaithful husband behind, Belinda Smith builds a new life as the manager of an upscale B&B in the heart of sunny Tuscany, but her peaceful world is threatened by the arrival of Lauren, a beautiful, former Wall Street wizard with a son who attracts the attentions of Belinda's daughter, much to both mothers' dismay. Reader's Guide included. Original. 30,000 first printing.
Oh, the dream of escaping to Italy–and the nightmare of reality. . . .
Belinda Smith has found her very own Tuscan valley in the sun, having abandoned a dreary cheating husband and an even drearier English town. Running Casa Mia, her own too, too divine bed and breakfast, everything is coming up sunflowers and olive groves for La Contessa of the Valley. Life couldn’t be more perfecto!
Until, that is, the arrival of Lauren–a beautiful, feisty Wall Street ball-breaker who has the gall to announce her plans to open a new B&B. A place just like Belinda’s–only much more glamorous. Even worse, Lauren, whose charmingly calculated smile Belinda recognizes as quite like her own, threatens Belinda’s existence as the epicenter of all things ex-patriot in the valley.
Have Belinda’s fabulous days of ruling supreme in this corner of the world come to an end? Will the carnivorous Lauren consume Belinda’s dreams al fresco? Will Lauren’s gorgeous son Kyle steal Belinda’s lovely, overworked daughter away from home and hearth (who will do the cleaning, for God’s sake?). War has come to lovely Tuscany–let the fur and focaccia fly!
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