Books and travel, the only things you can buy that make you richer.
If there is one place in the world that I’ve written most often about, it is Italy. I love Italy, from the top to the bottom, through its musical language to the art which appears everywhere. And, if you’ve read some of what I’ve written about Italy, you know that one of my favorite places is on the coast of Tuscany, in the Maremma region, south of Pisa and Grosseto, north of Rome and Civitavecchia.
There is much history there. In the near distance, the hill city of Capalbio sits high above the olive groves and sheep pastures, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Off the coast of the Maremma, a peninsula juts out into the sea, one with a tall, dark mountain called the Argentario.
Two islands appear like dots on the horizon in the sea, one is Giglio and the other Giannutri. About two years ago, disaster struck the island of Giglio when a massive cruise ship from Civitavecchia collided with the rocks and sank there. We could see the wreckage from the tiny villa where we stayed on the mainland of Tuscany.
That brings me to a book I’ve recently read called The Other Story by the author of Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay. It is set off the coast of Tuscany on the island of Giglio at a very posh resort. The book’s setting is close geographically, but very different than the basic place where we stayed in the Maremma (think sand, sun, no shoes, cooking in a teeny kitchen and hanging laundry on lines overlooking the sea). This week, I’m recommending The Other Story over at GreatNewBooks.org, the site I lead and run with five other writing friends. A little more about it …
The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay
Imagine a posh resort on an island off the coast of Tuscany, awash in sunshine, sparkling like the guests’ diamonds. A young man steps off a yacht, Nicolas Kolt, an author on a getaway, supposedly to work on his next novel. The poolside crowd swoons when they recognize him; his first novel had become a worldwide success as well as an Oscar-winning movie. It is there under the Tuscan sunshine that we come to know the flawed man, Nicolas Kolt.
Nicolas spends his time doing everything but writing. His behavior has driven his family and friends away. He runs from the blank pages of what should be becoming his next novel. Only he knows he hasn’t written a word on his next, and the pressure is high. What happens at the resort, though, is important. It is there that the character makes a notable transformation.
I love to hear about writers and artists and how they create. What de Rosnay has written in The Other Story is not about the act of creation, though, but about the resistance which every human must overcome to fully live and to live well. It is a mocking of celebrity culture, a parody of sorts. And on a deeper level, it is a difficult and important story with many layers, on how the decisions made by those in past generations echo and ripple and touch the lives of others for years to come.
I hope you’ll stop by our site, sign up for the weekly book recommendations, and enter to win a copy of Tatiana de Rosnay’s newest novel, The Other Story. The giveaway runs from Wednesday to Friday night.