Italian Neighbours – Tim Parks

Not about his attempt to translate the Aussie soap opera (which is still going) for the pasta-fanciers, but his book about his experience of moving to a small Italian town with his new Italian wife and all the strange things that make living in Italy a thing.

I’ve noted elsewhere that I think Tim Parks can write very well on the little things – it’s true that he always could, I was very pleased to find. I did buy this on the strength of Teach Us To Sit Still. I also bought the sequel, and A Season With Verona. A little word here – I do love the editions I’ve got. They’re the Vintage ones. Never judge a book by its cover? Maybe. But it is possible to judge a book’s cover, and these are lovely.

Without wanting to spoil anything, young Tim Parks is puzzled by the habits of his neighbours – they all live in a block of flats with a little garden, and one of them thinks the flat that Tim and his wife have moved into should belong to her – the old owner apparently promised it to her. Most of the other inhabitants think she is mad. The garden grows odd things. The town itself also contains a few interesting people. And there’s definitely a way to do things, which everyone else knows, but Tim clearly doesn’t. And his finding them out is told in a charming and amusing way – always the right words to describe the scene, the people, the weather.

The only problem is now Amazon thinks I want to read every light-hearted book about Italy that exists, but I suspect everything else would be a let-down.


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