26 April 1999

Book Review: An Italian Education, by Tim Parks, *****

Product Description
Tim Parks’s best seller, Italian Neighbors, offered a sparkling, witty, and acutely observed account of an expatriate’s life in a small village outside of Verona. Now in An Italian Education, Parks continues his chronicle of adapting to Italian society and culture, while raising his Italian-born children. With the exquisite eye for detail, character, and intrigue that has brought him acclaim as a novelist, Parks creates an enchanting portrait of Italian parenthood and family life at home, in the classroom, and at church. Shifting from hilarity to despair in the time it takes to sing a lullaby, Parks learns that to be a true Italian, one must live by the motto “All days are one.”

Tim Parks has written a highly readable and perceptive account of his life in Italy. Unlike many English authors who write about the country he does not display any sense of smugness and has no complex of superiority! In fact he has so much integrated into Italian society that one might as well say he is Italian by now! He grasps the nouances of life in Italy from the point of view of a normal person living there, not a traveler, not a tourist, not a scholar. He can even make fun of Italians without being offensive. He also appreciates much that most foreigners miss. An open window into contemporary Italy. Highly recommended.

Addendum 2011: While the book was written in the nineties pretty much everything he says is still very much true ten years on.