The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian
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The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,182 ratings  ·  153 reviews
A Book Sense Pick for May 2005, this is the humorous tale of how the author moved— against his will and his better judgment—to Italy with his wife, only to rediscover himself, his marriage, and the importance of getting in touch with his inner Italian.

After years of working on a string of sitcoms, Phil Doran found himself on the outside looking in. Just as he and his peer...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 23rd 2006 by Gotham Books (first published 2005)
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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...more
Carolyn Dorstek
Mar 25, 2010 Carolyn Dorstek rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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
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.
Mattsgrandmom also gave us a copy of this one and enjoyed it. Good, quick read, especially after our Tuscany trip!

Cute. Funny. Quick read. Loved
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...more
Haven Fairfield
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...more
Jun 07, 2008 Mimi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Diane Ferbrache
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...more
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
May 30, 2013 Kathleen rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 24, 2007 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Book Club read. Pretty accurate (for one who lives in Tuscany, has for 3 years). Navigating the bureaucracy here can be fiendish. He laments a lot, whines a lot, but there were some chuckles. I get it, but I know I'm not going to be here forever. His wife wanted her forays here for her sculpting lessons to become permanent, and with their Hollywood-made money (not a fortune, I surmise, but enough to make the financial jump), he was dragged, not quite kicking and screaming, more like squirming an...more
Apr 22, 2009 Ken rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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
LOVED. Simply put. Great insight to not only a less-Hollywood and more-real image of Italy, but an insight into a typical American life trying [reluctantly] to slow things down and just enjoy life. Witty and humorous narrative.
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
Jul 26, 2012 Diane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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
Lots of fun and laughs with this story - I can dream of doing this with my husband.
Tom V
Phil IS reluctant, but even reluctance is better than the way he thinks his life is going in Tinsel-Town.

Although there is a familiar cast of (pretty) stereotypical "quirky" locals, Doran's tone does eventually become a bit more genuine as opposed to the "look, Ma, no hands!" that his screenwriter background impels him to use.

His wife is his saving grace; he should be kissing her feet since she's probably the only thing in his world that saved him from a breakdown.

Look for your own "rustico," an...more
Ed Lee
This is a biased review as I read this on our honeymoon in Italy :)
A super funny read! It's very entertaining, and I laughed out loud several times during this easy, fast read. I think it's even more funny if you have some understanding of Italian people and their culture (having lived, or visited Italy, having Italian friends or relatives), but it's a good book either way. I stopped short of giving it 5 stars, because I can't say that it's literary greatness, but it sure is a new favorite of mine (probably at least in part because I can identify with so much o...more
Susan Springer
The Peter Mayle of Tuscany --- only much funnier!
Helen Eggert fibbs
If my desire to go to Tuscany was strong before reading this book, it is even more unbearable now. The author describes the food, the people, the country and life as an Italian from the view of a reluctant outsider which made it very approachable and fun. I'm not a fan of some of the subterfuge that went on in the book, but I wasn't there and this isn't my story. I want to visit this little village (which is perhaps why the author changed it's name) and sit at the cafe and eat the glorious food...more
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