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Hill Towns

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,953 ratings  ·  76 reviews
A single event in her childhood irrevocably marked Catherine Gaillard -- and made it impossible for her to leave her cloistered mountaintop town in Tennessee for the next thirty years. But her devotion to her husband, Joe, and her desire to forever put the incident behind her propel Cat on a life-changing trip to Italy.

Making their way across the countryside of Tuscany wit
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 11th 1994 by HarperTorch (first published January 1st 1993)
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Into the Killer Sphere by Stefania MattanaA Room with a View by E.M. ForsterUnder the Tuscan Sun by Frances MayesRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Books with Italian location
23rd out of 209 books — 100 voters
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Reading Italy
182nd out of 367 books — 109 voters

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Community Reviews

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The older I get, the less tolerance I have for the overblown prose that Siddons sometimes gets caught up in while describing her characters. This one was definitely NOT among her best efforts; if you want to read vintage Siddons, I much preferred Colony. On the other hand, I must admit that if you would like to read some beautiful descriptions of Rome, Venice, Florence and Siena, it's clear that Siddons has not only visited these places, but has a true appreciation for them. For that, I'll give ...more
There's currently a commercial about chaise lounges on tv. The husband pronounces them "chase" and his wife pronounces them "chaaaze". I felt as if I have been languidly sprawled out on a chaise lounge while reading this book. It was wonderful. Ms. Siddons strings words together like multi-dimensional figures on a strand of holiday ornaments. The settings are the hills of Tennessee and the major cities of Italy. The lighting, the feeling, the emotions, the bourbon.....this book is so good! I rea ...more
I found myself speaking outloud to the characters (i.e. "Don't do it, Cat!") which means that the plot is certainly strong enough for me to really get into it. However, I too, was very unimpressed the language. There simply was no need for the foul words that Siddons appeared to enjoy throwing in seemingly on a whim. Also, I believe that I have a pretty broad vocabulary, but Siddons really stretched the limits of every day speech in this book! Words such as "fecundity", "scurrilious", "ennui", e ...more
I really like Anne Rivers Siddons, and this is my favorite. This is another novel I read over and over. It's funny, heartbreaking, and most importantly, fabulously romantic without being cliche or fluffy. The author draws you so much into the setting, Italy in this case, that you'll feel like your sitting at a table on the Roman terrace watching the characters interact and you'll swear you can smell the garlic and the sweat. I liked this even more the Eat, Love, Pray.
If you ever wanted to, have already, or want to relive a trip to Italy, especially Rome, Venice, Florence, Siena, and Tuscany then this is the book for you. The descriptions are vivid, detailed, and picturesque of the people, places, the hot sensual scorching weather, and the emotions generated by being there. This is also a book where it is handy to have a dictionary nearby because the prose is overblown with words not in everyday use.

As a five year old child Cat Gaillard was traumatized by the
I thought this book was absolutely amazing and enthralling. Cat, the main character, has never once left her home town on The Mountain in TN, until she and her husband decide to take a life-changing trip to Italy. Siddons' descriptions of the people and places encountered along the way are so vivid that I could "see" very detailed pictures of them all in my mind. Now I not only want to learn to speak Italian, I want to go there too.
I'm glad this was audio because I'd not gotten through the roller coaster ride of relationships and the unnecessary bad lanquage. The characters were professors and other professionals-so didn't expect the gutter mouths. The story seemed very tedious and depressing. I'm going between murders gore and now downer relationships. I'm in need of a funny light easy read.
Hills Towns was an enjoyable read. The book started in Tennessee and ended in Italy. Everyone seemed to change in Italy, and most of the characters would never be the same again. It has beautiful settings and vivid characters.
This was the book that inspired Valerie and me to travel to Italy!!! The first Siddons book I read! LOVED it! I recommend it to anyone that is planning to visit Tuscany, or Italy in general.
Enjoyed the descriptions of Italy. Would like to have finished the journey with just Cat and Joe.
she can paint a picture and really captures the angst of a relationship betrayed.
Catherine (Cat) Gaillard was so deeply traumatized as a child when her parents were killed that she refused to leave the Tennessee mountain she called home. Years later when her adult daughter wanted them to see Europe with her, Cat finally went for therapy. A couple years later, when she's finally able to leave the mountain, an opportunity comes along to go to Italy. Cat's husband is a Professor and his graduate assistant is getting married. Cat and Joe go along to attend the wedding and then ...more
Kathryn Yaste
I cannot make up my mind about this book. I was very much sucked into it, captivated really, despite the fact that the entire plot of the novel is the characters driving through Italy, behaving like asses, and fighting with each other the whole way. At times the prose was so overblown it pulled me right out of the story. I remember thinking that no matter how well-educated a woman is, I do not believe she would casually toss the word "fecund" around like she did. But at other points in the book, ...more
Catherine Gaillard lost her parents when she was five, and even as an adult, can't make herself leave the mountaintop college town in Tennessee where she had always lived. She and her professor husband Joe are invited to Italy to attend the wedding of another college faculty member, and then to tour Italy with them on their honeymoon. Catherine, with the help of a therapist, decides that they should make this trip. Quite an entourage develops on the trip, which includes their hosts for the weddi ...more
Barbara Mitchell
This novel is a book sale find from several years ago. I finished reading it yesterday and still cannot really make up my mind about it.

My main problem with it is that I didn't like one single character in the book. The protagonist, Catherine (Cat) Compton Gaillard, lives on a mountain in Tennessee near famed Trinity College. Her father is a teacher there and her mother is from a poor family, and they are killed in a grotesque accident on a bridge down off the mountain. Five-year-old Cat is slee
Laura Hogensen
Oh Anne, what will I do when I run out of your books during long flights? This was another stunner and complete-distractor that took me through two flights, a layover, and a 2 hour flight delay. I understand that ARS is not to everyone's taste, but she is my supreme chick lit queen, and I have yet to find someone that surpasses her in terms of prose, atmosphere, and female characters combined with dramatic storylines. Long may she reign.
Jan 18, 2012 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Bookmooch
A single traumatic event from her childhood has irrevocably marked Catherine Gaillard's adulthood, striking her with an almost unconquerable fear of leaving her cloistered mountaintop home in Tennessee for thirty years. But now, in an effort to shake her fears and put the incident behind her, Catherine is embarking on a life-changing vacation to Italy with her husband Joe. As they make their way across the beautiful countryside of Tuscany with two other couples, Cat and Joe soon find themselves ...more
It's easy to fall into the beautiful music of Anne Rivers Siddons' writing. Hence, three stars. The descriptions in the book are able to whisk one right into the heart of Italy. The failure, for me, was the characters didn't feel developed enough for me to care enough about them for the book to really work.
I have strong feelings for this book because it was the first novel I found written in English while I did my Study Abroad experience in France! I was homesick & I didn't need a dictionary to read it! Such a comfort!
Woman with agoraphobia lives in one college town. Finally gets therapy. She and husband travel to Italy.
Anxiety, portrait painted, relationship strains.
Ends abruptly.
Jean Pilutti
A single traumatic event in her childhood irrevocably marked Catherine Guillard, leaving her stranded in her cloistered mountaintop Tennessee town for 30 years. But now she is embarking upon a life-changing trip to Italy with her husband, Joe, hoping to put the incident behind her forever.
So I'm a little suprised at how much I adored this book. It's not what I think of as "high fiction" which (I think is my own made up word, but might be real. Who knows).

Anyway, I am becoming quite taken with the south, despite the fact that I abhor its politics and don't ever really want to live there. Books about the south have cropped up several times for me this year.

This book is more about Southerners than the south. I loved the main character, and in a rare turn of events was really rooting
Not Siddons best work. Overstretched believability.
Kathy Cherney
Tough read, wordy as is Siddons' style, but worth reading.
Joan Horkey
I liked it enough to finish it but overall, disappointing.
Just love Siddons writings. You came meres yourself
James R.
This was almost a 1 star. It reminded me of "The Great Gatsby" in the way the story was told.
What started out to be a dreamy, reflective novel, about the lives of a professor and his wife at what was obviously Suwanee, turned out to be nothing other than blah. I really liked Joe at first. He seemed so caring and "southern", even though he wasn't, but by the end of the book I thought he was a self-absorbed ass. I even started to dislike Catherine, but there were redeeming qualities remaining by the end of the book. It just wasn't one of my favorites from one of my favorite authors. I lon ...more
Charlene Gordon
I liked this very much. Read this in 1999.
Samm Seals
I don't know why I continue to read Ms Siddons. Verbose is an understatement, imagining every detail in every "scene" is disconcerting. It's easy to lose track of the story. I do like her look inside of people at various times of their lives and also the age range and type of people she examines. the language is presented as being natural to the character but I feel exaggeration in the southern demeanor. (personal experiences)and I don't like her use of specific swear works. we don't talk like t ...more
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Born Sybil Anne Rivers in Atlanta, Georgia, she was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority.
While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered natio
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“You will have to grow up to her quickly, I thought, surprising myself, or you will lose her.” 0 likes
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