Elaine Dowling's Reviews > Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy

Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker
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's review
Sep 13, 09

Read in September, 2009

There is really nothing wrong with this book. It was a fine, easy weekend read. It is squarely in the Californians (in this case, Michael Tucker and Jill Eichenberry of LA Law fame) move to Italy (Umbria instead of Tuscany), buy a house, renovate/add-on to house, travel all over, mention the house keeper and gardener in passing, eat and drink anything and everything and spend the whole time complaining about how broke they are. Anyone who doesn't consider a couple hundred grand a year to be minimum wage probably won't be too sympathetic -- but that is easy to ignore.

The real problem with this book is that it was written by an amateur. It is supposed to be saved by that unabashed revealing of personality that is always supposed to save amateur dinner theater -- it really doesn't work. The book isn't specific enough to make a good travel guide or cookbook. It isn't gossipy enough to be driven by the personalities. It does drive home the point that it is all about the food -- and the wine -- and the grappa; but without the detail that makes the Frances Mayes books so successful.

Again, the book is fine. It is mildly entertaining, an easy read, a reminder of all the reasons I would love to have the time and money to have a house in Italy; but it is not the equal of the Frances Mayes books, Alan Epstein's or Ferenc Mate's.
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