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That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story
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That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story (Italian Memoirs)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  881 ratings  ·  144 reviews

“At villa Donnafugata, long ago is never very far away,” writes bestselling author Marlena de Blasi of the magnificent if somewhat ruined castle in the mountains of Sicily that she finds, accidentally, one summer while traveling with her husband, Fernando. There de Blasi is befriended by Tosca, the patroness of the villa, an elegant and beautiful
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 2008)
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Finished: What a story! For me there should be no debate about whether a book gets 4 or 5 stars; if you cannot decide then it is only 4 stars. You have to be sure about a 5 star book. I am sure that this one gets my 5 stars. Why? Tosca, her life and what she made of it is totally fascinating. Not only her life but also Leo's and Cosimo's and Mafalda's. Extraordinary strong, wonderful people - all of them. You are missing something if you don't take the time to r
Jan 05, 2012 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jane by: It fell off the shelf
Shelves: favorite
1/5/2011 This morning, after 80 years of living and reading many books I just finished the most captivating and personally emotionally penetrating book I have read in all those 80 years. I am so moved by it that I must try to express my feelings in my so inadequate words.. Hopefully someone will take me seriously and also read and experience what I am experiencing. I could even go so far to say that it has the power to change my view of life and my actions to events within my own life. The book ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Memoirs can be tricky things. How good is a person’s memory, especially if the events that are in the distant past? It can extremely be tricky if a writer is recording someone else’s memories. Memoirist and food writer Marlena De Blasi has all of these issues to deal with in her fourth adventure, That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story.

De Blasi’s tale takes place in Sicily’s interior. In 1995, she and her husband Frenando stumble upon an unusual villa occupied primarily by older women in Sicily’s m
I tried, I really did. This is my second Marlena de Blasi book and I just don't enjoy her books. I can't even tell you what it is. I should enjoy them...Italy, food, scenic descriptions, quaint villas, etc. But I don't. I couldn't finish this book. Just moving on...
The subtitle of this book is A Love Story. It is not really a story of love. It is a story of lust, of want, of need. And while love is present in this tale, these other emotions supersede the notion of love. The idea that a man would trade an animal for a child, adopt and raise her with his own children, and while still married, claim to have fallen in love with her when she becomes of age is not my idea of a true love story. That premise aside, I found the author’s excessive use of Italian ann ...more
E. Journey
This novel is a memoir, but it reads like a novel. The subtitle should cue you in: A Love Story. One as sentimental, dreamy, titillating, provocative, frustrating, and satisfying as any romance novel. Between a peasant girl and a prince, no less; both of them heroic. The necessary obstacles are there, too. And, yes, the love story, served within the context of the author’s visit to Sicily for a magazine article, does have a happy ending. How sweet is that!

Still, this is more than a story of a tr
I have this thing for Sicily. I am fascinated by the place, the culture, the history, and the people. Marlena de Blasi’s book, That Summer in Sicily, looked like just the thing to satisfy my obsession – even if only in part. And she calls to life a wonderful, magical portrait of rural Sicily invoking all the senses. I, too, felt “grateful to be inside this dream of Sicily”. You can almost smell the freshly baked bread, the pastries and tarts, the fragrant garden in the early morning mist. You ca ...more
This book was amazing! I'm kind of starting to get irritated by Marlena's writing style, but I'm glad she was able to tell this story about Tosca, Leo and the rest of the gang. I really fell in love with these people. I especially loved the ending. First I couldn't believe my eyes that the ending was such, but I'm glad it was. I wish I could meet these people and just hug them for dear life. I loved Leo's socialist concept and thought him to be a revolutionary. I love this book so much, I want t ...more
Loved, loved this book! It was hard to set down. A wonderful, atmospheric tale told beautifully. I read at the end of my Kindle version of the book that the author is a food and wine writer. No's a delicious story, redolent with local flavours and dishes as well as a touch of romance. I'm gettin' my ticket for Sicily! "Buona se." Highly recommend!
There were several times reading this book (on my Kindle) that I stopped and asked if it was real. I even had a friend look it up for me while we were at the pool. I decided it was fictional and read it like a novel. When I got to the end and saw that is was a memoir I was much more intrigued. I want to know more about these people. I want to see pictures. The fact that it is based on real people took it from a 3 to a 4 star for me. I loved the description of the beautiful lodge, the gardens and ...more
Beautiful written memoir about the author and her husband's travels into the interior of Sicily, where they are first met with stony silences and suspicion. They stumble upon Villa Donnafugata, run by an intimidating woman named Tosca and home to many widows, who together have created a harmonious society. Tosca invites Marlena and her husband Fernando to stay, and after several weeks, Tosca volunteers to tell Marlena her story. The book is mostly comprised of the story of Tosca's early beginnin ...more
This was one of the most amazing love stories I have ever read. Thank you Marlena for giving us the haunting portrait of Tosca, a timeless glimpse into Sicilian life as told by a Sicilian. I was mesmorized and enchanted by this worman of great character. Now knowing the conclusion, I must re-read the book with very different eyes. Early details and characters have much more meaning now that Tosca's story has unfolded through Marlena's exquisite wordsmithing.
I think I have had enough of Marlene De Blasi. Her total self involvement is getting rather annoying. What was sweet when she wrote her first book about love in Italy has gotten very she must have gotten too. The red lipstick and letting down of hair and wearing grand dresses just doesn't cut it anymore. OK, I'm done!
This is a beautifully written book about loving and living. It captured me immediately and held my attention througout -- what a story she has to tell! I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this book with others as I found it meaningful on a range of levels.
This was an enjoyable read, but a few points keep me from giving it a higher rating. Usually I enjoy her style of writing, but this one fell short. Too many elements went into this story. I didn't like how much of the story was devoted to how she came to learn about Tosca's unusual life. Tosca's memoir was fascinating. It's hard to imagine that this actually happened. The mix of clans and serfdom in Sicily make a complicated climate that has been kept "silent". I would be curious to hear what a ...more
Book Concierge
3.5 ***
This nonfiction work is subtitled: A Love Story. It’s part travel, part biography, and definitely a love story. It’s jump-off point is a villa in the hills of Sicily that the author and her husband came across on their travels. They wound up staying there for months, and the author, in particular, was completely taken by the owner’s story. Most of the book focuses on Tosca relating the story of how she came to be the ward of Prince Leo and how she inherited the property that she turned i
This story was breathtakingly beautiful and every romantic bone in my body responded, I wanted to be present for every word. Marlena and Fernando go to Sicily so that she can write about the culture there. Few outsiders to Sicily ever make it past the cold silence of the inhabitants, but they find themselves brought, silently, to a castle. Women, widows, care for the grounds and one lady named Tosca has the run of the place. She sits down to tell Marlena her story which is nothing short of a rea ...more
When I wrote about Ragusa's Castle of Donnafugata for Italy Magazine, several readers contacted me to say that it was the setting of this book. Sadly, that is not so but I am grateful to them for pointing the book out to me. As Marlena De Blasi states in an introductory note, Donnafugata is the name of several real and fictional properties in Sicily, most famously the one near Palermo in Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard. However, De Blasi's tale is none the less fascinating for that:

In 1995, D
Cynthia Haggard
When Marlena de Blasi was given the assignment of writing about the interior regions of Sicily, she suspected that she got the job because others had turned it down. For “the center of the island is an aloof and pathless place, and the colossal silence of it all is reflected in its people,” a friend warned. But de Blasi was intrigued. She made plans. She traveled to Sicily. She made phone calls. Her phone calls were not answered. Her meetings didn’t happen. And when she tried to befriend people ...more
Early on: "It's the human story, which repeats itself endlessly if only to prove that the past is not dead. That the past wears different costumes. Sometimes.... There's always a prince and a palace. Always a priest. And there's always a girl. The protagonists are eternal. With each performance the characters proceed as if they were the first ones to ever act it out. As if they didn't know how the play would end....It was he (Lampedusa) who said that all lovers play the parts of Romeo and Juliet ...more
Just finished listening to this book which is performed by the author. I'm not sure I would have finished listening to it had I another book to listen to at the time. The author is breathy and overly dramatic. The incredibly long sentences drag on and on. I found it difficult to differentiate between speakers when it came to dialogues. Had it not been for the "he said" and "she said" I"m not sure I'd know who was speaking. As far as the content goes it was interesting and I'm happy to have read ...more
Admito que no começo achei que não iria gostar do livro, mas depois que a história de Tosca começou a ser contada não havia motivos para parar de ler! Um príncipe com que 'quê' que Robin Hood (eu poderia dizer), um clã com muito poder (ou seria máfia italiana?), um amor puro e quase proibido - tudo isso traz uma riqueza de detalhes e informações que só deixam a história mais cativante. E pensar que não é apenas uma história, que tudo isso realmente aconteceu.
Having visited Sicily for the first time last spring, I did a search for "Sicily" titles in the library catalog to create my summer vacation reading list. This was a perfect choice. Rich storytelling, at times perhaps contrived, but delightful nonetheless. Romance, intrigue, tradition, mystery and history equal Sicily, and this story captured an era beautifully in a story of the last prince.
I finally finished this. I have no idea why it took so long, it's not that long a book.
A charming story within a story unfolds in this novel. It describes a Sicily that is simultaneously intimate and forbidding, political and pastoral. The characters who seem the primaries at the beginning of the book are quickly pushed to the side with their arrival at the VIlla Donafugato, where much is mysterious - even when it has seemingly been revealed. My favorite part of the book was the food porn - glo
Wow, what evocative language.... I listened to the MP3 download. The reader's voice and Italian language skills are gorgeous. This is a complex love story. It gives the listener a tone, lifestyle, value system, political system and somewhat historical glimpse of life in Sicily in the mid-twentieth century. I finished the tale wishing I could be a part of the society so beautifully described by the author, who, as it turns out, was also the reader of this audio book. She reads in a bit of a monot ...more
This was an tale of life in Sicily and the omerta (vow of silence). The author is fascinated by the tale of Tosca and Leo. Leo, the local prince, receives nine year old Tosca from her father in trade for a horse. She joins his family and is educated. She develops a deep love for Leo and, on her eighteenth birthday, she becomes his mistress. Their love affair is complicated by Leo's marriage to Simona and his attempts to reform the feudal system still in place in Sicily. Leo is punished by the "c ...more
Sara Orozco
Terrible. Very light, boring, predictable, bad narrative. Didn't make me feel any commiseration, at all, for any of the characters. The only reason I give it 2 stars is because at very few times (around halfway through the read) the story looked somewhat interesting, as if it had something bigger to give. But it didn't. It was my first time reading Marlena de Blasi, definitely won't read her again.
Susan Tekulve
This is technically a memoir, but it reads like a fairy tale. Not sure if I truly believe all of what "happened" to this author while she was in the remote region of Sicily that is the setting of this book, and there is no way of knowing what really happened because the author's sources have "sworn her to secrecy." I'm certainly not going to risk facing down the crime family that will kill her sources if I risk going to that part of Sicily to find The Truth. However, this is a real page-turner a ...more
I loved this wonderful book. In the introduction the author tells us that this is a true story. I kept thinking that it couldn't be but kept hoping that it was true Her writing is so descriptive. I felt I could smell and taste all things Just a beautiful story. You won't be disappointed
Charland Garvin
Jul 11, 2015 Charland Garvin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one liking a good book.
Marlena De Blasi happens to be one of my favorite authors and That Summer in Sicily is at the top of my list. It was a wonderful read, full of charm and just a little off beat enough to keep you guessing. Its one of those books you can reread and catch little glimpses of things you missed the first time. Love, love her books.

And now I have 'listened' to it again. It is so very wonderful, read by the author and her reading adds such flavor to the book. It becomes complete with her reading. She ha
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“Some people are born empty. All manner of good deeds and patience and loving kindness can't even begin to fill them up.” 9 likes
“She's a woman. Like a chameleon does, a woman quietly blends into all the parts of her life. Sometimes you can hardly tell she's there, she's so quiet going on about her business. Feed the baby. Muck the stables. Make soup from stones. Make a sheet into a dress. She doesn't count on destiny for anything. She knows its her own hands, her own arms, her own thighs and breasts that have to do the work. Destiny is bigger in men's lives. Destiny is a welcome guest in a man's house. She barely knocks and he's there to open the door. "Yes, yes. You do it," he says to destiny and lumbers back to his chair.” 5 likes
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