A Tuscan Childhood

A Tuscan Childhood

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by Kinta Beevor
     
 

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"Wonderful...I fell immediately into her world, and was sorry when I reached the end." —Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun

The sparkling memoir of an idyllic, bohemian childhood in an enchanted Tuscan castle between the wars.

When Kinta Beeevor was five, her father, the painter Aubrey Waterfield, bought the sixteenth-century

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Overview

"Wonderful...I fell immediately into her world, and was sorry when I reached the end." —Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun

The sparkling memoir of an idyllic, bohemian childhood in an enchanted Tuscan castle between the wars.

When Kinta Beeevor was five, her father, the painter Aubrey Waterfield, bought the sixteenth-century Fortezza della Brunella in the Tuscan village of Aulla. There her parents were part of a vibrant artistic community that included Aldous Huxley, Bernard Berenson, and D. H. Lawrence. Meanwhile, Kinta and her brother explored the glorious countryside, participated in the region's many seasonal rites and rituals, and came to know and love the charming, resilient Italian people. With the coming of World War II the family had to leave Aulla; years later, though, Kinta would return to witness the courage and skill of the Tuscan people as they rebuilt their lives. Lyrical and witty, A Tuscan Childhood is alive with the timeless splendour of Italy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Packed with sumptuous descriptions of seasons and their rites—. A portrait of a vanished Tuscany and a tantalizing glimpse of exceptional people who loved Italy very well."—Elle

"A loving and intimate portrait of Tuscany's many faces—. One can hear the buzzing of the cicadas, smell the wild thyme, and feel the crunching of pine needles underfoot—. A beautifully written book."—The Sunday Times (London)

"Captivating—sharp-eyed, intelligent and abundant in its riches. "—Los Angeles Times

Harper's Bazaar
A magical account of Italy's rustic charms.
Los Angeles Times
Lovely. Sharp eyed, intelligent and abundant in its riches....Beevor's book stands apart.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beevor, who died in 1995, recalls her childhood spent in Tuscany with bohemian British parents in this precious yet strangely distant memoir. Beevor has many interesting tales to tell: her parents, an artist and a writer, moved into a castle in the remote countryside of Aulla in 1905; then, in 1927, they inherited from her mother's aunt a villa just outside of Florence in Fiesole, a locale they had visited often. There is considerable charm in her stories of eating in the castle's rooftop garden and roaming through a rustic market where vendors sold wooden clogs and terra cotta pots. Her recollections of the local folk are sweet even if they reflect the sentiments of the foreign elite. "Finding servants was not easy," Beevor writes, although their castle was situated in an impoverished area. As well, her British family often found the informal attitudes of their Italian employees laughable. She delights in relating local traditions, however, such as the use of fennel to cure colic and the consumption of garlic to repel mosquitoes. When the family moved to its inherited villa in Fiesole, they began to associate with a larger circle of expatriates living there, including Bernard Berenson. Naturally, the war caused big problems for both the British residents and the peasants (who Beevor claims saw the danger of Mussolini when others were blind to it). Over all, Beevor's skewed perceptions cause a few problems: for starters, she places the painting-over of an 18th-century fresco of a poodle on the same level as the war-time destruction of the town of Aulla. Agent, Robin Straus.
Library Journal
Beevor grew up in Tuscany between the world wars. The family home, a fortress-like structure they called "the castle," was located near the Tuscan village of Aulla. Beevor moved there at age five with her mother, a writer, and her father, the painter Aubrey Waterfield. Neglected by her busy parents, she explored the castle and the countryside with her brother, becoming acquainted with the local peasants and participating in grape and olive harvests, mushroom gathering, and other Tuscan rituals. Like other recent Tuscan offerings--Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun (LJ 9/1/96) and Ferenc Mate's The Hills of Tuscany (LJ 12/98)--this one also expounds on the area's beauty, food, and people. But Beevor's approach is different; writing with wit and style, she tells of a bohemian life in a tumultuous time and follows the fate of her family and the castle over nearly 70 years. Recommended for all public libraries.--Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Los Angeles Times
Lovely. Sharp eyed, intelligent and abundant in its riches....Beevor's book stands apart.
Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughly charming memoir of a childhood in Italy between the world wars. The English have always loved Italy, especially Tuscany. Nourished by romantic visions and illusions, they've flocked there to buy up large tracts of land and working farms. Aubrey Waterfield, the artist, was one of many such. He purchased La Fortezza della Brunella, an imposing 16th-century castle set on a hill, in 1916. With him he brought his wife, son John, and five-year-old daughter Carinthia (who became Kinta Beevor). Their Anglo-American coterie included only the very best of families and such luminaries as Bernard Berenson and D.H. Lawrence. The children were more fascinated, though, by their father's fanciful "garden in the sky," a splendid Eden perched on the castle's roof. The castle—from its immense kitchen and sumptuous odors to the legend of a massacred garrison still haunting the place—became the focal point of life. By her own admission, Beevor's childhood was formed more by her contact with the locals and an imperious aunt than with her mother. Humorous, witty, and insightful comments abound here on the cultural differences separating the English and the Italians: e.g., regarding personal relationships, the rearing of children, and the preparation and consumption of food. Speaking of her parents, the late Beevor (who died in 1995) writes, "They had all of the luxuries of life but none of the necessities they seldom had money for those things that their relations considered the basis of civilized life." Reflecting on the Italians, she observes (as have many others): "Fundamentally, the Italian wants to give pleasure." And: "The Italians, unlike the Germans, were saved fromthe worst effects of ideology by their own cynicism about politics and the press," though the author does detail the cruel barbarism of the Fascists and Nazis during WWII. The nostalgic, enchanting book closes on a note of infinite sadness in remembering a way of life now lost .

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375704260
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/2000
Series:
Vintage Departures Series
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
716,381
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Frances Mayes
Wonderful...I fell immediately into her world, and was sorry when I reached the end (Frances Mayes is Author, Under the Tuscan Sun).

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