This is part of my Summer Reads 2018 series where I’ll be reviewing a series of “not just cookbooks”.
This week’s book is for anyone who’s ever wanted to start over in a new country (even at a later age). Judith Works’ Coins in the Fountain is actually many stories in one and is a good summer read for those interested in living in Rome, working for the UN, travel (in Italy and beyond) and historical and cultural facts about Italy.
From the publisher:
With middle age looming, Judith Works decided it was time for a change.But after graduating from law school at the age of forty-seven,she still faced the question “What now?” Casual conversations about far-off travels with husband Glenn became a reality with the offer of a dream job at the United Nations in Rome, Italy.
Coins in the Fountain brings to life the challenges of acclimating to the beautiful and chaotic ancient city of Rome. Works shares her struggles of learning the arcane rules and folkways of the UN while Glenn begins his valiant effort to cook Italian-style, as they both endeavor to embrace la dolce vita. With an extraordinary count and countess for friends, dogs in the doctor’s office, snakes and unexploded bombs on the golf course,along with a sinking sailboat, the unexpected was always just around the corner.
Through wit, wry humor, and enticing descriptions of food and travel adventures, Works takes you on a journey into the heart of what it is truly like to live in the Eternal City. According to Roman lore, if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the famous Trevi Fountain, the gods will grant you a return trip. When it was time for them to leave, Works made that hopeful toss of a coin and her wish was granted.
Works’ book is not a typical quick summer read; indeed it’s packed with information and rather than being an overview based on her experiences when living abroad, it feels more like a diary than a memoir. The book was first published in 2011 and is set well before then so it’s not the most up-to-date but many of the experiences she describes don’t change. As with most expat memoirs, there are stories of frustration and communication breakdowns due to the language barrier and tales of wonderment at the food culture they discover, so different to the one they are used to in the US (the food parts, obviously, are my favourites). Works has a love/hate relationship with Rome at times – things we take for granted in North America and other countries (renting an apartment, for example) are (sometimes hilariously) complicated in a foreign language but there’s so much about la dolce vita that makes up for the hard times.
The book is exceptionally well-researched and contains a LOT of cultural, literary and historical information (hence my comment about it being a bit of a “heavier” read) so it’s a good one to read a little bit at a time. If you can’t get to Rome this summer, this is a great way to travel there virtually.
Buy Coins in the Fountain on Amazon this link should bring you to the Amazon store in, or closest to, your country) .
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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from the author for review purposes. I am not receiving compensation for this review. All opinions my own.
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