Missing travel? Look no further – Pip Williams’ utterly delicious One Italian Summer will transport you to Italy – or as close as you’ll get to actually being there this year.
Pip and Shannon dreamed of living the good life. They wanted to slow down, grow their own food in their small South Australian property, and spend more time with the people they love. But jobs and responsibilities got in the way: their chooks died, their fruit rotted, and Pip ended up depressed and in therapy. So they did the only reasonable thing – they quit their jobs, pulled the children out of school and went searching for la dolce vita in Italy.
One Italian Summer is a warm, funny and often poignant story of a family’s search for a better way of living in the homes and on the farms of strangers. The family WWOOFs (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) their way around, which means they offer their services on Italian farms in exchange for board. Pip sleeps in a woodshed, feasts under a Tuscan sun, works like a tractor in Calabria and, eventually, finds her dream – though it’s not at all the one she expected.
I’m a big fan of travel memoirs, and I’ve also done what Pip does in this book and take the kids on the road. I travelled for five years with my older son and then, many years later, took my younger son out of school and travelled for twelve months. So I was very excited about reading this book, and really wanted to be transported away. I wasn’t disappointed. This is armchair travel at its most wonderful – elegantly written, often witty, always heartfelt – and an exploration of an internal journey, not just an external one.
Pip is of course the author of the hugely successful, Better Reading favourite The Dictionary of Lost Words, which recently won the Australian Independent Bookseller Indie Book of the Year award. One Italian Summer was written before The Dictionary of Lost Words and has now been reissued. Perhaps without this book, and the Italian adventure, Dictionary of Lost Words would never have been written. This really is one of those life-changing journey’s that she writes about here.
Filled with warm characters, delicious food, vivid descriptions of home and Italy, and Pip’s honest internal exploration, One Italian Summer is a reminder that happiness is usually where you least expect to find it – right in front of you.