Skip to main content

At Least You're in Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell

At Least You're in Tuscany is a lively and honest memoir of Italy, a breath of fresh air among others I've read. It displays an intimate portrait of the pulse, the quirks and the realities of a small Tuscan town.

Just as well, the book does not merely wax poetic about the beautiful Tuscan scenery but, more importantly, it attempts to bridge the yawning gap of cultural intricacies and present them in a much closer and understandable light.

After taking a few holiday trips in Italy, Jennifer Criswell decided to finally move to the beautiful hill town of Montepulciano and become a writer. Quite easier said and dreamt than done, but she held on to her mantra; she may be alone and almost running broke but 'at least she's in Tuscany'.

In her first year of stay, adventures, good and bad, await her and even claiming some old Sicilian roots barely helped. There's none about the joys of renovating a villa or the makings of a romantic crossing-continents love scenario here. Instead we are swept by our heroine's maze-like search for a job, struggle for residency and citizenship, greedy landlady and small town gossips.

Yet despite it all, she manages to find genuine neighbors and friendships on unlikely places and spends her days strolling with her beloved dog, Cinder, stopping by her favorite coffee and cheese shops, talking with Italian friends under a stoop and sampling the Tuscan dish. I could definitely say her enthusiasm surpasses everything and it is this bright outlook that also lets her immerse, enjoy and be more accepting of things.

Between a tourist and a native, a lot of things get lost in translation with nothing to bridge it at all. What I like about her accounts is that she was able to put herself in a middle ground as if the usually closed Tuscan curtains (to foreigners) sometimes fall away to reveal its real beauty, welcoming her as part of the place slowly and over time. I think these small glimpses are the highlights of the story for me.

The quaint flowery descriptions and the image of idyllic living, a formulaic way to usually charm readers (including me), isn't strongly present and I like that, too. Criswell presents her Tuscany in an honest note tinged with much realities and simple achievable pleasures, making the journey very relatable and genuinely fun at the same time. I am looking forward to hear more of her avventura.


At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life is Jennifer Criswell’s memoir about her first year in Montepulciano during which her dream of expat life meets the reality of everyday challenges and results in sometimes funny, often frustrating, always lesson-filled situations.

Jennifer Criswell’s move from New York City to Tuscany was not supposed to go like this. She had envisioned lazy mornings sipping espresso while penning a best-selling novel and jovial Sunday group dinners, just like in the movies and books about expatriate life in Italy. But then she met the reality: no work, constant struggles with Italian bureaucracy to claim citizenship through her ancestors, and, perhaps worst of all, becoming the talk of the town after her torrid affair with a local fruit vendor.

At Least You’re in Tuscany is the intimate, honest, and often hilarious tale of Jennifer’s first year in Montepulciano. During that time, her internal optimist was forced to work overtime, reminding her that if she were going to be homeless, lonely, and broke, at least she would be all those things—in Tuscany. Jennifer’s mantra, along with a healthy dose of enthusiasm, her willingness to embrace Italian culture, and lessons gleaned from small-town bumbling, help her not only build a new, rewarding life in Italy but also find herself along the way.

Title: At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life
Author: Jennifer Criswell
Genre: Memoir, Cultural, Non Fiction
Published: September 2012
Publisher: Gemelli Press
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 (3 and half cups - Quite relatable with intimate portraits of a small Italian town. A closer look into the many faces of Tuscany.) 


Popular posts from this blog

Review Post: Fool Me Once by Catherine Bybee

Rating/Review: ☕☕☕☕ 1/2 (4.5 cups, this romantic suspense will give new meaning to The First Wives Club)
You never know what you really would be getting when reading a Catherine Bybee book.  On the outside, each book can definitely hold its own as a great contemporary romance novel.  Read a little bit further, you get well-defined, multilayered characters and a romantic suspense in the making. Pretty soon you will be amazed on the intricate storyline balanced well with the main characters developing romance.  Fool Me Once is definitely a Catherine Bybee book.  The first in her new series, First Wives,  Fool Me Once is also a spinoff from her popular Weekday Bride series.  And yet again, Ms. Bybee delivers in her great characters, well thought out plot and melding her two series together without one overpowering the other.
The story starts out as the head of Alliance and their legal go to person, Lori try to help one of their client who unexpectedly lost her husband.  To get her away …

Spotlight Tour: A Sky Full of Stars by Samantha Chase

The stars are about to align in the newest Shaughnessy brothers romance!
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE Brilliant astrophysicist Dr. Owen Shaughnessy feels more connected to the cosmos than to people. He’s great with calculations, but when he leads a team of scientists to study a famous meteor shower, he doesn’t factor in his free-spirited artist assistant Brooke Matthews.
LOVE CAN DAZZLE YOU Polar opposites in personality, the friction between them threatens to derail the project. But the beauty and mystery of the night sky draw Owen and Brooke together—and she’s going to surprise him in ways the stars never could.

Amazon: B&N: iBooks:


“That was…interesting.” “I never thought I’d see those two mediums used together.” “I may have to stab my own eyes out to make sure I never see it again,” Brooke said and then shuddered. They had just left the art gallery, and she waited until they were at the corner before looking at Owen. “I…

Review & Excerpt Tour: My Fair Duchess:Dukes Behaving Badly by Megan Frampton

An unexpected duchess proves that behaving  badly isn't exclusive to the Dukedom.

MY FAIR DUCHESS Dukes Behaving Badly #5 Megan Frampton Releasing Feb 28, 2017 Avon Books

In Megan Frampton's most recent installment of The Dukes Behaving Badly series, an unexpected duchess proves that behaving badly isn't exclusive to the Dukedom.
The Unexpected Duchess
Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?
It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of …