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The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,702 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
After years of working on a string of sitcoms, Phil Doran found himself on the outside looking in. Just as he and his peers had replaced the older guys when he was coming up the ranks, it was now happening to him. And it was freaking him out. He came home every night angry, burned- out, and exhausted. After twenty-five years of losing her husband to Hollywood, Doran’s wife ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 23rd 2006 by Avery (first published 2005)
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Jul 30, 2009 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
The story of a couple who buys a run down, ancient building in the hills and renovates it is not unique. The appeal when I picked up this book was the claim by Doran, a former Hollywood screenwriter, that he was telling the story of how he came to love Italy after he and his wife renovated a house near Pisa.

I don't believe him. From the beginning, when he reluctantly joined his wife after she bought the house, to the end, when they are living in the house, his tone is sarcastic and his descripti
Mar 28, 2009 Christine rated it it was amazing
Loved this! If a vacation to Italy is out this year-or possibly next, this will take you right in the middle country where you would want to be, without all the touristy mire. I really enjoyed the characters in this book: They were real,honest, and strangely familiar to me. Lots of hilarious situations regarding the thick Italian country culture. I wanted to be apart of them. I didn't want this to end! It's one of those "I'm depressed because I finished this book" reads. It was a mini-vacation, ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Sandra rated it liked it
After reading this book I have mixed emotions. I loved the story of the people who live in this little town in Tuscany, but I didn't like some of the meanness of the author and his wife. I understood their reasons for being devious to the people in this town, but at the same time it seemed like instead of getting an attorney and working towards a mutual solution for everyone, they chose to be petty and spiteful, just like their neighbor.
The author also shows how much us Americans are pampered i
Carolyn Dorstek
Feb 01, 2010 Carolyn Dorstek rated it really liked it
Recommended to Carolyn by: Matt Intindoli
It is refreshing to read a book that makes you laugh from the first sentence. I am thoroughly enjoying this book. Just what I needed this week. Thanks Matt for recommending it.

Finished this book awhile ago and it still comes to mind. It's humor and refreshing look at a wonderful culture has become the stuff of daydreams for me. Out to dinner last night with friends who tried to burst my "daydream bubble" by pointing out the realities of living life in another country, but dreams (or the need for
This was the book I chose to read while vacationing in Italy, and it was great. It was charming, funny, irreverent, but believable -- written by a middle aged Hollywood comedy writer, who with his wife decided (albeit reluctantly on his part) to escape the rat race and stress of their American lives and move to a small town in Tuscany. What they experienced while renovating their Piccolo Rustico (extreme fixer-upper) and assimilating with their neighbors was both hilarious and touching, and abov ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
This is a very pleasant book about a man rather unwillingly giving up his Type A Hollywood lifestyle to restore and live in an abandoned rustic house in rural Tuscany. It’s a fun easy read, and one that I enjoyed very much.

For twenty years the author has been a writer of television scripts in Hollywood. His wife of twenty years (no children) is an artist and sculptor, and they spend half the year apart, with him in Hollywood and she sculpting in Italy. Just when he realizes that fifty-year-old t
May 30, 2013 Kathleen rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I would not recommend this book for a number of reasons. 1. The story is presented as non-fiction but that is entirely unbelievable. There is nothing remotely believable about the dialogue or actions of any of the characters. So much has been exaggerated for comic effect that none of it plays realistically. 2. The portrayal of the people he meets in Italy is embarrassingly cliched, written as though the author never actual went to Italy and thinks he can get along with resurrecting cliches that ...more
Feb 23, 2009 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
As long as there are human beings on earth, I think, there will be books of this genre. Yes, yet another "outsider goes to foreign country and has amusing experiences with the quirky locals". These books practically write themselves, because it is a simple fact that wherever you go on earth, there will be crazy people doing crazy things. And, as any writer knows, these experiences beg to be written down. But sometimes the most frequently used formulas are the best, and that is why these books wi ...more
Feb 17, 2011 Leah rated it it was ok
I was interested to read this book because Phil Doran is the screenwriter who worked on Who's the Boss and The Wonder Years. He's also a complainy, whiny American who, thank goodness, finally gets his childish act together and works out his marriage with his wife. Granted, his wife bought a house in Italy and there were tons of obstacles involved in repairing the place, but his attitude toward the Italian culture was more than reluctant at first. He came around in the end, but the book ends on a ...more
Feb 18, 2009 Jill rated it liked it
Very fast read. Very funny. While it falls in the Frances Mayes category of I-had-a-midlife-crisis-and-so-I-bought-a-villa-in-Tuscany-and-found-myself-and-here-is-what-I-learned-to-love-about-Italy-in-the-process book, it is much more self-deprecating, and, like I said, very spot-on-funny about Italians at times.
Julie  Durnell
Jan 20, 2016 Julie Durnell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable and amusing book of their purchase and trials restoring a small house in Cambione!
Aug 04, 2012 Murcam rated it really liked it
Mattsgrandmom also gave us a copy of this one and enjoyed it. Good, quick read, especially after our Tuscany trip!
Aug 04, 2012 Mattsmom rated it really liked it

Cute. Funny. Quick read. Loved
Pete Partin
Great "travel" prep book. A comedy writer is the perfect person to write "travel" books.

Bonnie E.
Dec 26, 2014 Bonnie E. rated it liked it
This book is entertaining at times but does not cross over into being particularly enchanting. The author is a TV writer in his fifties named Phil Doran who has begun feeling cast aside by all of the up and comers in Hollywood. His sculptor wife Nancy has been working in Italy several months a year, every year, for most of their marriage, and the story starts as she excitedly tells him about her purchase of a run down rustic villa and her hopes to rebuild it with him. The couple does not have ch ...more
Haven Fairfield
Apr 11, 2010 Haven Fairfield rated it it was ok
Phil Doran is a veteran television writer. He wrote and produced for "Sanford and Son", "Too Close for Comfort" and "Who's the Boss". He also wrote for "The Wonder Years" as well as "The Bob Newhart Show". The Reluctant Tuscan is his journey of post career self discovery.

Doran is blunt in his description of his desperation at watching his once glamorous career fade. He is panicked and disillusioned by the changes he sees in the industry around him. Young turks have arrived and they are playing
Jan 20, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
The Reluctant Tuscan was a different type of book for me to read. I purchased it several years ago and would get a few pages in and then set it down for another book that held my attention better. This time, however, I managed to pick it up AND complete it!

The book itself is a true story that starts with an American couple - Nancy is an artist, Phil is a TV writer in LA. The wife has moved to Tuscany to work as a sculptor. While there she buys a fixer upper. A break in work/projects for Phil ha
May 05, 2008 Mimi rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: book group
Recommended to Mimi by: Courtney
It's a fast and easy summer read. I laughed many times and only got a offended a little when he makes fun of Europeans and their fear of drafts.
Phil Doran was a Hollywood Sitcom writer who got dragged to Italy by his wife, who bought a small rustic house in Tuscany. I could not put the book down. Very funny and very delicious in every way. It made me want to buy Ricotta cheese and adopt a baby goat.

Now that I think of it, I was offended with many things. I remember when Jon would tell his friend
Diane Peak
Jan 28, 2016 Diane Peak rated it it was amazing
Phil Doran was a TV writer/producer for 25 years. He worked on such shows as "Who's the Boss" and "Sanford and Sons". After so many years in the business, he found himself burned out and exhausted. His wife, Nancy, had been trying to get her husband to slow down for years. She felt she had lost him to his writing and to Hollywood show business. Nancy, herself, was a sculptor, who frequently went to Italy to sculpt marble. On one of her many trips to Italy, she purchased an old, broken down farm ...more
Oct 23, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Doran is a self-described Hollywood refugee who is always one broken shoelace away from a nervous breakdown, so when he moves to a dilapidated farmhouse in Tuscany after being hemmed out of his thirty year career writing for sit coms, it makes for a hilarious memoir. His book is like an Alitalia coach seat from LAX to Fiumicino: up close, very personal, turbulent at times, and ultimately fantastically rewarding.
Whether buttering up local official to get their construction plans approved, or coo
May 16, 2013 Annette rated it really liked it
Phil Doran is a burned-out Hollywood writer for TV sitcoms who reluctantly agrees to move to Italy after his wife bought a 300-year-old farmhouse in a small town in Tuscany. Anyone who has ever done any renovations or repairs in their home knows what a headache it can be. But throw in a different language and top it off with frustrating bureaucratic green, white, and red tape, and you have the makings of an amusing disaster. Told with the witty style you would expect from a comedy writer, their ...more
Diane Ferbrache
Jun 28, 2013 Diane Ferbrache rated it it was amazing
Shelves: funny, italy
Hollywood script writer, Phil Doran, is having difficulty getting back in the game after a string of successes. He joins his wife for what is supposed to be a vacation in Tuscany, only to discover that she has bought a house -- a piccolo rustic -- that needs a LOT of work. He writes about adjusting (or not) to the quieter life in Italy.

It's obvious that Doran was a comedy writer since his accounts of dealing with contractors and bureaucratic red tape are at times just hilarious. But the real jo
Sep 02, 2007 Karen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with an inner Italian screaming to get out
Written by Phil Doran, a Hollywood writer of sitcoms such as Sanford & Son, Too Close for Comfort, Who's the Boss?, The Wonder Years, All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show. So you can see his type of dry humor. He's kind of on his "down" time as a writer and his wife is a sculpter who regularily travels to Italy for her art. She loves Italy and decides on a whim to buy an old house for them to live in and restore. He reluctantly goes along with her but misses the L.A. lifestyle and can't g ...more
Mar 11, 2015 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: people, italian
This was a quick and amusing read about an ex-pat American starting his life over in Italy. I didn't realize it at first, by the author was a TV producer/writer on some of my favorite TV shows. (He doesn't mention which shows so I Googled his name.) Feeling burned out by fast-paced Hollywood life, his artist wife convinces him to join her in Italy. He reluctantly agrees and arrives to discover that she has bought a rundown old farmhouse in Tuscany. Chaos ensues as they try to get building permit ...more
Sherry Lee
Mar 27, 2015 Sherry Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-and-travel
The Reluctant Tuscan is replete with Phil Doran's witty, dry sense of humor and richly detailed account of his assimilation into Italian culture. Although I really enjoyed reading this memoir, parts of the book seem a bit disingenuous the way Phil and his wife "play" on the cultural gullibility of their Italian neighbors. Even though you can kind of understand and forgive their scheming, which is in response to a laundry list of red tape and endless bureaucracy associated with the renovation of ...more
Aug 19, 2008 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Phil Doran, a burned out Hollywood producer, moves to Italy with his wife and they start building a house and life in Italy in order to save Phil from the stressed out lifestyle that has overwhelmed him and their relationship. The book is humorous and recalls the trials and tribulations of the couple in dealing with the Italian beaurocracy while getting their built in Tuscany. The book also is about Phil first rejecting the Italian way of life, frustrated by its inefficency, but who then comes t ...more
May 25, 2008 Ken rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people heading to the beach.
Shelves: faraway-places
This one is a 2.5--pretty standard travel book. Doran begins his tale with the news his wife gave him on a transatlantic phone call--that she bought a house in Italy and wants him to come take a look at it (I *hate* it when my spouse buys real estate in foreign countries).

From there follows Doran's acclimation to Italy, from initial culture shock, frustrations with Italian bureaucracy, grudging acceptance of non-American traditions, to love and assimilation into a new culture.

The book jacket s
Cecelia Hightower
“How I discovered my inner Italian” - a travel narrative that is both funny and informative. Phil Doran moves from California and his Hollywood lifestyle to Italy describing his delights and pitfalls. The language barrier and fight to become a permanent member of the community is comic and poignant. I loved meeting the “locals” and was sad to note the lack of cultural tradition in America. The book is “comfort food” savory and sweet but in the end left me knowing that food, family, and a sense ...more
Mar 10, 2010 MJ rated it really liked it
My husband told me I would like this book and that I was much like the author's wife...down-to-earth and practical (except, of course, for the fact that she bought this ramshackle "rustico" in the first place). And I think my husband was right. This was not so much a book about a couple moving to Italy as it was a personal voyage for a workaholic man who finally "got it" when he realized how close he came to losing his wife. He was lucky that she dragged him away from the crazy American lifestyl ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Doreen
Recommended to Diane by: review in one of my magazines for summer read
Loved this book. Phil Doran a well known comedy series writer and his wife attempt to rebuild a very old farm house in Tuscany. He is reluctant about the whole idea and is doing it mostly for his wife. It is harder for him to sell scripts and Hollywood is getting to him. His wife who is in Tuscany as an artist buys this house and convinces him to help her restore it and stay there.
Its one mishap after another. The book is funny and gives you a real life look at the region its people and the foo
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