Charity's Reviews > Ten Days in the Hills

Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley
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Jan 30, 2008

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Recommended for: movie buffs and politicos

"But a little after nones, they all went and refreshed their faces in cool water before assembling, at the queen's request, on the lawn near the fountain, where, having seated themselves in the customary manner, they began to await their turn to tell a story on the topic the queen had proposed."

-Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

Jane Smiley is once again remaking classic literature with Ten Days in the Hills, a modern take on Boccaccio's The Decameron.

In The Decameron, an assorted group of ten noble men and women hide out in a country villa in the hills outside of Florence, hoping to escape the plague (aka The Black Death). They spend their time telling stories that are invariably linked.

In Ten Days in the Hills, an assorted group of ten (self-involved) men and women hide out in mansions in the hills outside of Hollywood, hoping to escape news of the Iraq War (circa March 2003). They spend their time telling stories that are invariably linked, watching movies, arguing about politics, and having sex.

Well, I wouldn't say that this was an easy read, but it was interesting. The commentary on the Iraq War was intriguing (especially since it really managed to take you back to that time, at the start of the war), the stories were very humorous, and the arguments between the characters were believable and entertaining. What kept Ten Days from getting a higher rating from me was that it wasn't gripping from beginning to end, due to a lack of flow in the stories, and it seemed to fall rather flat at the end.

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