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As an erstwhile wine and food writer I had to shake my head and wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?" The answer is simply that I'm not Alexander McCall Smith, who can take the simplest plot and make it interesting by populating it with complex and believable characters. McCall Smith's protagonists (as well as many of his incidental characters) are deeply philosophical, always searching, and always adult — which is to say that they're thoughtful and emotional without being hysterical. They live lives that are fully examined. And there are always moments of absurdity and wry humor. I always know at the beginning of a McCall Smith novel that I'll leave feeling like I'd just spent time with a new best friend. If only I had that talent.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
I enjoy most of Alexander McCall Smith’s books. I particularly enjoy the gentle wandering philosophy of his books. In this book we have as our protagonist, Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer. His girlfriend has dumped him and he is feeling blue. To top it off he has writer’s block. His editor suggests he finish his latest cookbook on site in Tuscany. His rental car reservation is fouled up. A man offers him the use of his bulldozer. He slowly trundles his way to the small village of Montalcino. What follows is a delightful story only Smith can write.
The story is well constructed and the bulldozer moves the story. The characters are rich and memorable. Smith provides the sights and smells of Tuscany. The discussion is on food because our hero is a food writer. The human relationships are complex and interesting. I find that Smith always leaves me feeling uplifted after finishing one of his books.
The book is almost seven hours long. Sir Timothy Ackroyd does a great job narratoring the book. Ackroyd is an English actor and award winning audiobook narrator.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful