Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy by Chris Harrison

Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy 

Published by: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Published on: October 18, 2010
Page Count: 321
Genre: Nonfiction
My reading format: Advanced reading copy in Adobe Digital Editions from NetGalley
Available Formats: Paperback

Italy is one of the few places I've been outside the United States, and anything having to do with it always catches my eye. Also, when I went the trip covered nothing south of Rome, so until I can visit Southern Italy myself, I'll just have to read about it.

Thanks to this book, any pipe dreams that may have ever crossed my mind about possibly living abroad now do not include Italy. Head Over Heel was a wonderful read, but if anything, it made me realize how frustrating it can be to live as a foreigner in another country. Customs, food and all ways of doing things can be vastly different from what one is used to in her native land. A Type-A rule-follower myself, I know I'd have a hard time with all the bureaucracy involved in getting anything done at all. Most of us just aren't accustomed to spotty postal service and not bothering to report a crime because the police force will never bother to assist you anyway.

In the first chapter, Harrison, an Australian used to an ordered life, remarks that Italians would rather complain about something than take steps to fix it. However, somewhere in the second half of the book, as Harrison is both frustrated and sucked in by the Italian way of life, he realizes that to survive and thrive in his adopted country, he will need to suck it up, bending and breaking a few laws where necessary to accomplish things like obtaining a drivers license, marriage license, functional plumbing and any other number of basics. Things get so overwhelming at one point that he decides he must go back to England to regroup for a bit but the trip is short-lived. He comes to realize during the 24-hour stay in England, that his life there is too ordered and he enjoys more freedom and a laid-back lifestyle in the home country of his lover, Daniela. Then he has another important realization: England isn't what has changed, he is. It is at this point that he comes to terms with his love-hate relationship with Italy and returns to it just as fast as he can.

Harrison is an excellent writer, very talented with putting something down on paper just right. He is very witty, which makes viewing Italy through his eyes wonderfully entertaining.  

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