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Hill Towns

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  4,068 ratings  ·  121 reviews
A single event in her childhood irrevocably marked Catherine Gaillard -- and made it impossible for her to leave her cloistered mountaintop town in Tennessee for the next thirty years. But her devotion to her husband, Joe, and her desire to forever put the incident behind her propel Cat on a life-changing trip to Italy.

Making their way across the countryside of Tuscany
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 11th 1994 by HarperTorch (first published January 1st 1993)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,068 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it
The older I get, the less tolerance I have for the overblown prose that Siddons sometimes gets caught up in while describing her characters. This one was definitely NOT among her best efforts; if you want to read vintage Siddons, I much preferred Colony. On the other hand, I must admit that if you would like to read some beautiful descriptions of Rome, Venice, Florence and Siena, it's clear that Siddons has not only visited these places, but has a true appreciation for them. For that, I'll give ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
I found myself speaking outloud to the characters (i.e. "Don't do it, Cat!") which means that the plot is certainly strong enough for me to really get into it. However, I too, was very unimpressed the language. There simply was no need for the foul words that Siddons appeared to enjoy throwing in seemingly on a whim. Also, I believe that I have a pretty broad vocabulary, but Siddons really stretched the limits of every day speech in this book! Words such as "fecundity", "scurrilious", "ennui", ...more
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
There's currently a commercial about chaise lounges on tv. The husband pronounces them "chase" and his wife pronounces them "chaaaze". I felt as if I have been languidly sprawled out on a chaise lounge while reading this book. It was wonderful. Ms. Siddons strings words together like multi-dimensional figures on a strand of holiday ornaments. The settings are the hills of Tennessee and the major cities of Italy. The lighting, the feeling, the emotions, the bourbon.....this book is so good! I ...more
Barbara Mitchell
Mar 17, 2010 rated it liked it
This novel is a book sale find from several years ago. I finished reading it yesterday and still cannot really make up my mind about it.

My main problem with it is that I didn't like one single character in the book. The protagonist, Catherine (Cat) Compton Gaillard, lives on a mountain in Tennessee near famed Trinity College. Her father is a teacher there and her mother is from a poor family, and they are killed in a grotesque accident on a bridge down off the mountain. Five-year-old Cat is
Mari Carroll
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another re-read of my all-time favorite author, and again it did not disappoint. Even more thrilling was learning of the backstory of it all - that Anne and Heyward did go to Italy for the wedding and honeymoon of their friends Cynthia and Cliff Graubart, and the story was loosely based on that adventure. Even better, on the Anne Rivers Siddons Fan Club page on Facebook, I was given the gift of this link that gives more detail, including Pat Conroy's role. He was living in Rome at the time, was ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hills Towns was an enjoyable read. The book started in Tennessee and ended in Italy. Everyone seemed to change in Italy, and most of the characters would never be the same again. It has beautiful settings and vivid characters.
May 06, 2014 rated it liked it
If you ever wanted to, have already, or want to relive a trip to Italy, especially Rome, Venice, Florence, Siena, and Tuscany then this is the book for you. The descriptions are vivid, detailed, and picturesque of the people, places, the hot sensual scorching weather, and the emotions generated by being there. This is also a book where it is handy to have a dictionary nearby because the prose is overblown with words not in everyday use.

As a five year old child Cat Gaillard was traumatized by the
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I thought this book was absolutely amazing and enthralling. Cat, the main character, has never once left her home town on The Mountain in TN, until she and her husband decide to take a life-changing trip to Italy. Siddons' descriptions of the people and places encountered along the way are so vivid that I could "see" very detailed pictures of them all in my mind. Now I not only want to learn to speak Italian, I want to go there too.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really like Anne Rivers Siddons, and this is my favorite. This is another novel I read over and over. It's funny, heartbreaking, and most importantly, fabulously romantic without being cliche or fluffy. The author draws you so much into the setting, Italy in this case, that you'll feel like your sitting at a table on the Roman terrace watching the characters interact and you'll swear you can smell the garlic and the sweat. I liked this even more the Eat, Love, Pray.
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad this was audio because I'd not gotten through the roller coaster ride of relationships and the unnecessary bad lanquage. The characters were professors and other professionals-so didn't expect the gutter mouths. The story seemed very tedious and depressing. I'm going between murders gore and now downer relationships. I'm in need of a funny light easy read.
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was the book that inspired Valerie and me to travel to Italy!!! The first Siddons book I read! LOVED it! I recommend it to anyone that is planning to visit Tuscany, or Italy in general.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
she can paint a picture and really captures the angst of a relationship betrayed.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Did not like the unbelievable, slow story, and thought the author was too impressed with her own vocabulary.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
If you've never read any of Siddons books, skip this one and read one of her low-country books. They're much better. This missed the mark.
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the descriptions of Italy. Would like to have finished the journey with just Cat and Joe.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the past, Anne Rivers Siddons' southern low country stories have captivated me. But this departure from that setting misses the mark. The main reason is my complete lack of empathy or any kind of positive feeling for these characters. Agoraphobic Cat and her husband Joe leave their Tennessee mountain life for a trip to Italy with Joe's graduate assistant at Trinity College and his new wife. When there, they meet up with three truly unappealing characters whose lifestyles force Cat and Joe out ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reread, 2017
Well, I read this book again because I just returned from one of Italy's most bewitching hill towns (Siena) and when I go places I'm eager to immerse myself in literary versions of the places I've fallen in love with. This book doesn't do Siena justice but it does spend time in Rome, Florence and Venice, with a surprisingly unflinching eye. Siddons loves Italy but doesn't seem to like it; she revels in the light but feels its dark underpinnings much more than I. Overwrought plot and prose as ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Soon after beginning Hill Towns, I realized I had read it before. But kept reading because I knew they were going to Italy, and wanted to experience that again. Her descriptions of the scenery, plazas, churches, monuments, art, and neighborhoods were lovely. I had my iPhone handy to look up definitions of food and to look at pictures of places she described. An example, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, a gorgeous painting that has significance in the story. Some of the characters, while quirky, were ...more
Kathy kennedy
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A story about an agoraphobic woman who leaves her Tennessee mountain town for the first time in 30 years. She goes with her husband, a college professor at the local college and friends who are planning to marry in Italy on a whirlwind tour of the major and some minor cities in Italy. They meet a famous artist and his wife. The artist insists on painting our heroine. Much interaction among the characters as well as excellent character development. The characters evolve, some positively, others ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up and only put it down twice before I finished it. It was like I was reliving my Italy trip all over again. All the places we saw in Rome, Venice, and Florence., Tuscany. It has everything, Art, Local, Wine. Much, much wine. Siddons must have been inside my head the whole trip to have written this book. I have read her beach books before, but Italy takes the prize. Such a good writer ...more
Pamela J Buckles
Sep 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A Big Disappointment!

I have always enjoyed the other books I have read by this author. I was very surprised that this book was a big disappointment. I did not like any of the characters. They all seemed very self-centered and obnoxious. After reading this book I have no desire to visit Italy. It was all pretty awful.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this book was ok, mostly because of the beautiful descriptions of the setting. One thing that really bothered me is the thought of this famous artist traveling around Italy by car with his masterpiece and all his art supplies. I'm not an artist, so I wouldn't know, but that does that really happen?
Barbara Pickford
I don't even know where to begin

I felt the author was trying to fill in with every big word and flowery prose she possibly could. It was just w a y too much for me. I could not stay with the book beyond second chapter. I have read other books by this author i enjoyed....not this one!!!! It became tedious very quickly.
Lisa Giordano
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love ARS books. In this one, her detailed descriptions of Italy are so important to the story, so take your time and savor them, or even reread them. It's got really interesting main characters, with the main one showing real growth. I borrowed this from the library, but I may purchase a copy to reread when I feel like a trip to Italy is in order.
Debbie Shoulders
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A childhood tragedy has bound Cat to the mountains of East Tennessee and for over twenty years of married life it has been enough. Then an opportunity to visit Italy comes and Catherine world is turned upside down.

The challenge of married life is but one part of the book. Rivers Siddons also treats the reader to a visit to the Rome, Venice, Florence, and Sienna.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
It took me the fist one hundred pages to even begin to like this book. I have always enjoyed this author but after I made myself get through at first I almost laid it down. But I'm so glad I went on. Not her best but. A good book

Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Anne Rivers Siddons is hit or miss for me. This one - I didn't like ANY of the characters, and I thought they got exactly what they deserved.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did not like Cat nor the voice of the reader of this book.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed it. Loved the descriptions of the various cities in Italy and the depth of emotions of the characters. Also appreciated how flawed they all were.
Debbie Tanguay
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
quick read woman's life changes after parents death thru Italy
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Born Sybil Anne Rivers in Atlanta, Georgia, she was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority.

While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered
“You will have to grow up to her quickly, I thought, surprising myself, or you will lose her.” 0 likes
“It was what Trinity was all about: training you to be British and then insisting instead that you be Southern.” 0 likes
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