You’re invited on a Roman holiday. You’ll linger over each page of this book, savoring the full-flavored descriptions of all that is seen, heard, tasted, and felt. Just like all holidays, you won’t want this book to end. Judith is an adventuresome American who eagerly sought the extraordinary experience of working with the United Nations organization in Italy. Now we’re fortunate that she’s sharing her expatriate and also her traveler experiences with the rest of us.
Often tourists regret not glimpsing more about the culture and people of the countries they travel to. Here Judith’s tales setting up a household and then a life in Rome treat you to those insights of what it is to be Italian. The descriptions of all aspects of la dolce vita are enhanced with the author’s delightful, dry humor. As with life everywhere, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly, and this book holds back nothing from a well-rounded account for the reader. Narratives of the Italian meals cooked at home, as well as enjoyed in restaurants are featured. Meals are events. Words from the beautiful Italian language are sprinkled throughout the book too, delighting the reader.
There are several dimensions to this memoir. In addition to life in Rome, another interesting aspect is the description of the work done for the United Nations. The initial work described is with the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization). These situations “presented new problems complicated by the mix of nationalities, cultures, work locations, and legal arrangements. Adding to the tangle, the United Nations has its own laws as well as individual agreements governing its presence.” Later the author works for the FAO’s even more adventuresome sister food agency, the World Food Programme. Stories shared in this book about dedicated people assigned all over the world were touching.
All five senses are immersed in the vivid descriptions of the bountiful landmarks in Rome. With years of residency to draw from, the author presents the places so many of us have only heard of and also many surprises in Rome as well. But that’s not all! For you virtual travelers, Judith also shares extensive excursions taken all over Italy. But it’s not just the sights, sounds, and tastes in Judith’s descriptions; she includes very interesting historical information to explain the background and then relates it to present day. The writing flows so easily, it is sprezzatura, the art of making the difficult look effortless.
You’ll enjoy this gracious, artistic view of life in Italy, and you can reread it over again without throwing coins in the fountain. Have your book signed by Judith Works at The Edmonds Bookshop this Saturday.
Thereby hangs a tale . . . .
— By Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.