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A Tuscan Childhood

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  253 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
"Wonderful...I fell immediately into her world, and was sorry when I reached the end." --Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun

The sparkling memoir of an idyllic, bohemian childhood in an enchanted Tuscan castle between the wars.

When Kinta Beevor was five, her father, the painter Aubrey Waterfield, bought the sixteenth-century Fortezza della Brunella in the Tuscan v
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 8th 2000 by Vintage (first published September 30th 1993)
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Oct 04, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing
A delightful memoir of Beevor's childhood between the World Wars, running through olive groves and vineyards around the castle her parents bought in Tuscany. The richness of the telling and the flow of the book is compelling. Written just before her death in 1995 Beevor lavishes us with descriptions of food and the people who harvest, sell and cook it. Her father an artist and her mother a preoccupied journalist, Beevor had an unrestrained childhood hiding in huge empty olive jars and helping cu ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Iva rated it really liked it
Beevor had an ideal childhood growing up with often absent parents, but side-by-side with a beloved brother. They were free to roam the grounds of the vast "fortress" her British father had inherited. Her father, a painter who never displayed his work but was considered quite good, and her mother, a journalist, amused the caretakers, townspeople and chefs with their English ways. In fact Beevor includes more about the locals than the visits from D. H. Lawrence, Bernard Berenson, Kenneth Clark an ...more
Dec 11, 2010 Patricia rated it really liked it
Beevor had a privileged upbringing in some ways (she grew up in a castle; Bernard Berenson was a family friend). However this is not a book by a sheltered or snobby mind. Beevor is curious and open to everyone and everything in her surroundings, and the conditions are idyllic but far from pampering. She is wonderful company. Tuscany through her eyes is vibrant and memorable.
Jan 24, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy, biography
I am always reading about Italy and am rarely disappointed but this book was particularly good, the story of a privileged childhood in beautiful Tuscany amid many of the great minds of the 20th century - Aldous Huxley, Bernard Berensen, etc. The Tuscany and the Italian people came alive, as did that time just before WWII changed everything.
May 23, 2012 Kathleen rated it really liked it
I know many people who would prefer to live in Paris during the 20s, but I would take Italy almost anytime. Kinta Waterfield Beevor was fortunately born into an artistic family ("It was always said of my parents that they had all the luxuries of life but none of the necessities," 12) in possession of a fortress or castello in northwestern Tuscany. Kinta's mother later manages her aunt's Poggio Gherardo, a villa in the hills outside of Florence and a place associated with the setting of The Decam ...more
I've never read a memoir that made me wish so strongly that it was my life written about. In so many ways, Kinta had the most beautiful childhood imaginable - she and her brother spent their summers barefoot and free within an entire fortress/castle (with a roof garden viewing the Carrara mountains - can you imagine!) and the incredible Italian countryside. The smell of pine needles, harvesting olives, making wine, all the fresh local food (and a chef to cook it) and customs - I am head over hee ...more
Sep 06, 2007 Lilias rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: ppl interested in Tuscan culture
Shelves: non-fiction
A passage reads: [Tuscans] do not romanticize what has gone before, nor do they feel a need to close shutters upon it. The past is part of them and they are part of it." For that reason, even though it was just an "ok" read for me, I still would recommend this book to anyone interested in Tuscan culture: Beevor does give a good historical account of Tuscany in the early to mid-20th century from an in-depth perspective by writing about her childhood and adolescent years.
This book is well written
Clara Ellen
Sep 13, 2016 Clara Ellen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rural-memoirs
I really loved this beautiful memoir of a childhood in a castle in Italy..I loved the family, the friends, the land, the home, the food..everything about it was special! Though the war brought deprivations, it only made me feel even more how heroic and good the people were who lived through it, and the 'coming home' after the war was very touching. This book is just about everything I want a memoir to be - full of good people that I come to love, full of lovely descriptions of a place that I can ...more
Jeanne Marie
Mar 09, 2013 Jeanne Marie rated it it was ok
I read this book based on a recommendation from an author who writes similar stories about Italian life. I think the only reason I continued to read, an finish, this book was that it reminded me of stories my own Italian family has shared, and also that I have travelled to many of the places the author wrote about. However I found the writing to be a bit disjointed. I think author Adriana Trigani provides a much more detailed, and beautifully written commentary on Italian life.
Chiara Coletti
Jun 15, 2016 Chiara Coletti rated it liked it
A Tuscan Childhood is a beautiful memoir of an English girl's early life in the Lunigiana region of Tuscany. It's a miracle that this exquisite book exists. Kinta Beevor published it at the age of 93 and died two years later. For me, it's especially resonant because my mother came from the Lunigiana.
Chris Galle
Sep 15, 2016 Chris Galle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I liked these memoirs, both for its idyllic portrait of Tuscan life in the first half of the twentieth century as for the insight in the aristocratic, yet highly bohemian way of living of some English families who had come to live there. Recommended reading to all lovers of Italy and Tuscany in particular!
Nov 10, 2014 Jessi rated it liked it
"Then the music changed, and the dancing began by the light of the fire on the open side of the courtyard. The red glow lit faces as they twirled, and our elongated shadows danced on the old walls of the farm buildings." (p 174)
Oct 17, 2016 Rita rated it liked it
1993. I enjoyed this memoir on several levels. The magical part is all her detailed descriptions of pre-war rural life -- the grape harvest and wine-making, all on one day; the harvesting and pressing of olive oil; the importance attached to having/using oil and wine that you yourself helped harvest or at least knew exactly where it came from. Much talk of food: special dishes made by the several cooks; regional specialties; gathering and using mushrooms and chestnuts. For a foodie, this is more ...more
Feb 01, 2017 Lynn rated it liked it
A nice little read about the unconventional childhood of the author, Kinta Beevor who grew up in a castle in Tuscany. Her family was privileged and knew many celebrities such as Aldous Huxley so they lived a rarefied, if bohemian life. I was even more interested in the lives of the neighbors who came to work for them and became close friends. Rural Italy, at the beginning of the 1900s was very countrified. It was the kind of life that my grandparents, Italian peasants themselves left behind when ...more
Nov 05, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
In this chronicle of her nearly lifelong connection to the the 15th century castle, Fortezza della Brunella, in Tuscany, Kinta Beevor poignantly recollects her parents bohemian life there, the lives of the tenant farmers, and the Anglo-American circle of luminaries such as Bernard Berenson, D.H. Lawrence, Rex Whistler, and Aldous Huxley.
Jan 02, 2012 Leah rated it liked it
This book was so fascinating. It was written by a woman, long gone, about her childhood in a Tuscan castle in the town of Aulla. Her English parents purchased the castle, fixed it up, had servants, gardeners, cooks, and maids, and a bevy of famous friends (Whistler and DH Lawrence to name a few) and visitors. The story is beautiful because it is simply written without the romantic frills so commonly added to many of the books I read about Italy.

The best part of this book are the Chapters on WWI
Apr 04, 2015 Molly rated it it was ok
This book was just all over the place. It jumped from time to place so quickly that it was nearly impossible to follow. There were SO many people mentioned in this book, without any real depth or exploration into their stories that I couldn't keep any of them straight. Here's an example: "Vittoria would be joined by his brother Dario, and Dario's wife Rina, a daughter of Ramponi. Rina's sister Lina also came with her husband Enrico, a grandson of Montan, Ramponi's predecessor. Maria's stalwart c ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Almira rated it it was amazing
According to my journal this book was read in 1999.

Kinta's father, Aubrey Waterfield, a painter of the "upper middle" English class, purchased a castle "on top" of a mountain outside the Tuscanvillage of Aulla, consequently, Kinta and her brothers had a most interesting and unusual childhood, which was interrupted by WWI. Legendary figures such as D.H. Lawrence, Robert Trevelyan, and Rex Whistler were among some of those who would be guests of her family. With the onslaught of WWII, the family w
Jun 29, 2011 Martha rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this memoir. Beevor is not a great writer - often she gives the facts without the necessary embellishments - but her childhood centered around a fortress in Tuscany and her family and its connections to so many well known and interesting people make this a fun read. The local people were the most interesting and the insight into their way of life (which pretty much disappeared after WWII)and their love of food create a great summer book. Included are sketches, paintings and photographs ...more
Nov 01, 2007 Megan rated it it was ok
I usually find travel memoirs fun and interesting, but this one I was so-so about. Some of her descriptions of life in Tuscany in the early 20th century were really interesting. However, I felt like the book did not flow very well, and I was often confused on what time period in her life she was writing about, and who certain people were.
Sep 03, 2012 Liz rated it liked it
An interesting memoir of an Englishwoman who lived in a village near Florence during both World Wars. She did go back to England for school, but visited her family in Italy during the summers. An interesting look at how life changed in the area during her lifetime. She didn't write the book until she was in her eighties.
Nov 18, 2015 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
2.5 stars. The somewhat disjointed nature of the book made it hard for me to fall into the retelling. At times the book was delightful or deeply touching. At other times, I had to work to stay focused and read on. It must have been a very special time and place to grow up!
Aug 03, 2008 Linda rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fic
Curiously flat account of an early 20th century, privileged upbringing in Tuscany. Some interesting passages about the effects of WWI.
Apr 11, 2011 Maureen rated it liked it
Loved the descriptions of life between the two world wars for this privileged British family in Tuscany. A different world to be sure.
Apr 23, 2011 Joanna rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, italy
I think I found this particularly interesting as I was staying in the part of Tuscany which is the setting for the book while I read it.
Jul 25, 2015 Linnea rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed Beevor's autobiography. So interesting to see the overlaps with Iris Origo's story. Another vivid picture of Italy's suffering in WWII.
Ashley Shear
Nov 02, 2008 Ashley Shear rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
This is nonfiction and is probably only interesting to her family. I love Italy, but found this book too slow and boring.
Rose Anderson
Mar 10, 2016 Rose Anderson rated it really liked it
Some of it is redundant after reading Downing's QUEEN BEE OF TUSCANY; parts of it filled in the gaps. All in all, a well-written book with a much better flow than Downing's.
love the details of her childhood in Italy in the 1920's. She was from England and spent many summers there. A pleasure to read.
Nov 23, 2016 Marypeitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made me want to visit Tuscany

I learned a lot about Italy during WWII, but most importantly, I fell in love with her description of the Tuscan people and Tuscan life.
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Kinta Beevor, born Carinthia Waterfield, daughter of Aubrey Waterfield, a painter, and Lina Waterfield, writer of Castle in Italy: An Autobiograpghy. Lina was the niece and ward of Janet Ross, also a writer, and the granddaughter of translator and author Lucie Duff Gordon, who wrote the Victorian best-seller Letters from Egypt (1865).

From the age of five and until she was sent to boarding school i
More about Kinta Beevor...

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