Book Review: An Untourist Recommends ‘An Italian Affair’

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Untours explore European Culture

The Book:  The Italian Affair by Laura Frazer

What our recommending Untourist, Whitmel Swain,  says about it:

Tell us in a sentence or two what it is about?: When the author’s husband leaves her, she goes to Ischia to nurse her wounds & discovers a number o wonderful things including, of course, love
Why did you like it?: It tells of the human heart and how it can rebound, and for my wife and I, in Italy
In what region or city is this set?: Florence to start then on to the island of Ischia
In what country is this set?: Italy
Can you tell us, briefly, what it captures about the place it is set in?: The descriptions of the food, wine and landscape. Every sentence, almost, brings into focus our times in Italy with Untours
Regions that are part of the movie or resource: Ischia (The Right Vacation Rental) and Florence (Untour)
What advice would you give others considering an Untour? Get a good guide book AND a good phrase book first. Next develop a skeleton itinerary but remain willing to change it at a moment’s notice.

What the Press & Public  says about it

Conde Nast Traveller “Both a grand travelogue and a thoughtful look at reclaiming independence.”—
The Times (London) “A deliciously romantic story, made even more captivating by the idea that someone actually experienced it.”
Best reader review on Amazon “Forget Fodor’s — An Italian Affair is the best guidebook to Italy ever! I was totally mesmerized by Laura Fraser’s descriptions of Italy (and beyond), its landscape, city life and food. Reading this book was just as good as being there — and the fairy tale romance was the “cherry on top of the cherry on top of the sundae.”
Worst reader review on Amazon “Yes, it’s a travel guide that gives the reader insights to places in Italy that are not on the usual tourist stops. Actually, it’s easy to understand why. I liked that. But no, I couldn’t get drawn into the intent of the author for her memoir to be seen as her recovery of self by having an affair with a Frenchman. This book has more the tinge of a college girl’s traipse through Europe than a mature woman’s escape to self-discovery.
The Overall Verdict On Amazon, 63% of the readers give it four or five stars; 25% give it one or two.    On the social reading website Goodreads, 50% of the reviewers give it four or five-stars, 11% give it one or two-stars.
Quick Take
Frazer writes in a heartfelt and skilled way.  We particularly like how she contrasts the way Italians think of love, romance, sex…the whole complicated mess, with the way Americans view such matters..  Having arrived in Italy after the implosion of her marriage, she is convinced to come out for a drink later in the evening by a friend, despite her fatigue: “You return to the streets, which, despite the hour, are filled with couples strolling, middle-aged signoras locking arms, tourists taking flash photos and bands of teemagers gathered on the steps fo the magnificent marble Duomo”

We love how she sees Italy.  We’re not as enthusiastic about her decision to use the second person — ‘you’ for the whole book.  Like many travel essays, this is a sure thing, if you are already madly in love with Italy, and perhaps a solid 4 stars if you’re not

  • Whitmel Swain (who recommended the book) and his partner, Betty stayed with us in the Pergola apartment in Tuscany on their last Untour.  They’ve taken six Italian Untours to Tuscany (3 times), Amalfi & Umbria twice.  You can rent a place on Ischia, via Untours ‘property-only’ site, The Right Vacation Rental.

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