Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria

9780141803425: Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria

When Annie Hawes buys a hillside cottage in Italy for no more than the price of a dodgy second-hand car, a capable young Englishwoman becomes a surprisingly incapable Ligurian "signorina"...In the overgrown garden of a small, stone house amongst the olive groves of Liguria, high above the Mediterranean, a curious combination of bonfire dinner and business meeting occurs. In the area by chance, Annie and her sister have no intention of moving to the Italian Riviera. Still, they eat the fragrant, rosemary-skewered sausages, drink (perhaps a little too much of) the wine, and allow themselves to be taken on a moonlit tour of the ramshackle house and garden ...and fall in love with it all. Their new neighbours are baffled - how have these Foreign Females survived without learning to spot wild asparagus or tell good mushrooms from bad? Don't they have "any" idea how to get a supply of olive oil from a couple of dozen olive trees, or good wine from bramble-choked vines? Fortunately the hard-core olive-farming folk of Diano San Pietro are on hand to ply them with huge meals, plenty of ridicule and all the old-fashioned know-how they'll need to get by.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.


There is a natural inclination among lovers of the travel journal genre to compare Annie Hawes's Extra Virgin to the idyllic and idiosyncratic tales by Frances Mayes or Peter Mayle. Don't. Her saga has the well-built flow of fiction and self-effacing honesty of a journal.

Annie and her sister, Sarah, were in their early 20s when they left London for a 10-week job, pruning roses in the mountainous town of Diano San Pietro in Liguria, Italy. While Sarah is the sensible shadow in the book, it is Annie who falls in love withthe place and then the people and coming up on 20 years lives there still.

Youthful mistakes are rectified by a village mystified at the Hawes sisters: mystified that they would want to live in such conditions, that they know so little about olives, wine, food and life and that they are not--horrors--married. Time and time again she is confronted with the reality that is the life of a peasant farmer and in retelling the episodes of her own ignorance, she gives heartfelt flesh and bones to the characters.

Still, Hawes deftly drizzles an observer's scepticism about her adventure. "We gloat about the house, the food, the view, everything, whilst pondering the strange fact that if we saw a representation of this sunset on a postcard we wouldn't buy it. We would think it was tasteless." That she centred the story on the early, impressionable days and the gradual intimacy that developed, gives the book an energy that makes it stand apart. Although the final pages jump haphazardly into the present, Hawes's perspective is instructional about the economic and social changes that in 15 years moved the village from the 19th to the 21st century. Like any story with the ring of truth, Extra Virgin is very much a tale that will age well. --Kathleen Buckley


{\rtf1\ansi\deff0{\fonttbl{\f0\froman Tms Rmn; }}{\colortbl\red0\green0\blue0; \red0\green0\blue255; \red0\green255\blue255; \red0\green255\blue0; \red255\green0\blue255; \red255\green0\blue0; \red255\green255\blue0; \red255\green255\blue255; \red0\green0\blue127; Jim Carroll, author of The Basketball Diaires

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

(No Available Copies)

Search Books:

Create a Want

If you know the book but cannot find it on AbeBooks, we can automatically search for it on your behalf as new inventory is added. If it is added to AbeBooks by one of our member booksellers, we will notify you!

Create a Want