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My Italian Bulldozer
Cover of My Italian Bulldozer
My Italian Bulldozer
A Novel
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The best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series returns with an irresistible new novel about one man's adventures in the Italian countryside.
Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer, finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer. To cheer him up, Paul's editor, Gloria, encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on-site in Tuscany, hoping that a change of scenery (plus the occasional truffled pasta and glass of red wine) will offer a cure for both heartache and writer's block. But upon Paul'sarrival, things don't quite go as planned. A mishap with his rental-car reservation leaves hi stranded, until a newfound friend leads him to an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer.
With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts the offer, and as he journeys (well, slowly trundles)into the idyllic hillside town of Montalcino, he discovers that the bulldozer may be the least of the surprises that await him. What follows is a delightful romp through the lush sights and flavors of the Tuscan countryside, as Paul encounters a rich cast of characters, including a young American woman who awakens in him something unexpected.
A feast for the senses and a poignant meditation on the complexity of human relationships, My Italian Bulldozer is a charming and intensely satisfying love story for anyone who has ever dreamed of a fresh start.
The best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series returns with an irresistible new novel about one man's adventures in the Italian countryside.
Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer, finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer. To cheer him up, Paul's editor, Gloria, encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on-site in Tuscany, hoping that a change of scenery (plus the occasional truffled pasta and glass of red wine) will offer a cure for both heartache and writer's block. But upon Paul'sarrival, things don't quite go as planned. A mishap with his rental-car reservation leaves hi stranded, until a newfound friend leads him to an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer.
With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts the offer, and as he journeys (well, slowly trundles)into the idyllic hillside town of Montalcino, he discovers that the bulldozer may be the least of the surprises that await him. What follows is a delightful romp through the lush sights and flavors of the Tuscan countryside, as Paul encounters a rich cast of characters, including a young American woman who awakens in him something unexpected.
A feast for the senses and a poignant meditation on the complexity of human relationships, My Italian Bulldozer is a charming and intensely satisfying love story for anyone who has ever dreamed of a fresh start.
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  • From the book 2

    THERE IS NO CAR

    Scotland fell away beneath him, a stretch of green pasture, of hills, of swirling mist. Suddenly they were bathed in sunlight; fields of cloud, topped with crenellations of white, now lay beneath them as their plane pointed south. In his window seat he closed his eyes against the glare, imagining for a few moments their destination, as much an idea, a feeling, as a place. He saw a small tower that he had never seen before, a tower of warm red brick with a pattern of holes for doves. Down below, a man was pulling at a bell rope; as the bell rang, the doves launched themselves from their holes in the brick and fluttered skywards.

    He opened his eyes and noticed that the passenger in the seat beside him, a man in perhaps his early fifties, dressed in a lightweight linen suit, was looking at him. The man smiled at him, and he returned the smile.

    "What takes you to Pisa?" the man asked. His accent revealed him as Italian.

    Paul hesitated, unsure as to whether he wanted to strike up a conversation that went beyond the niceties. He had brought with him a book that was just beginning to engage him, and he was looking forward to getting back to it. But the man smiled at him again, and his natural politeness decided the matter.

    "So parlare Italiano," he began. "Sono . . ."

    The man did not allow him to finish. "Ah!" he said, and then, continuing in Italian, "What a pleasure it is for us Italians to discover somebody who speaks our language."

    "I'm sure there are many. Such a beautiful language . . ."

    "Yes, but what use is a beautiful language spoken just by oneself? It's all very well for the Spaniards, because there are so many Spanish speakers—all over the world. Even Portuguese has Brazil, but we have just us—just Italy—and after a while we get fed up with speaking only to ourselves. We have heard everything there is to say in Italian."

    "Surely not . . ."

    "I am not entirely serious. A bit serious, perhaps, but not entirely." Turning in his seat, he extended a hand towards Paul. "But I must introduce myself. I am Rossi—Silvio Rossi."

    "I'm Paul Stuart."

    Silvio loosened his tie. "Stuart is the name of Scottish kings, is it not? Mary Stuart . . ." He made a chopping gesture across his throat. "She was most unfortunate. Queens cannot choose their neighbours, and if they find they have one who has an axe, then it is most regrettable." He sighed, as if the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, had been a recent outrage.

    "It was a long time ago," Paul said.

    Silvio raised an eyebrow. "But I am an historian," he said. "What happened in the past remains rather vivid for me and . . ." He paused, and now removed the tie altogether. "That's better. Yes I find that the past has a much bigger shadow than people believe. It's still with us in so many ways. At our side all the time, whispering into our ear."

    "Warning us not to repeat our mistakes?"

    Silvio smiled. "We repeat some. Others we're sensible enough to avoid making more than once. But that's not what I was thinking about. What I was thinking about was the way in which the past determines our character, not just as individuals, but as nations. A child who is treated badly grows up damaged. A people who are subjected to bad treatment will bear resentments, will be suspicious. They will be bad allies."

    Paul, who had been holding his book, slipped it into the seat pocket in front of him. He had endured worse conversations on flights, including an attempt at religious conversion, a confession of adultery, and detailed...
About the Author-
  • ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH is the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels and a number of other series and stand-alone books. His works have been translated into more than forty languages and have been best sellers throughout the world. He lives in Scotland.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2017
    McCall Smith (Chance Developments, 2016, etc.) adds to the overworked subgenre of Tuscan travel romance with this pallid story about a Scottish cookery writer recovering from his broken heart in Italy.Paul has published nine wildly successful books about food and wine under the tutelage of his "freelance editor" Gloria, who may harbor but doesn't quite express deeper than professional feelings for him. This is a contemporary novel, and Paul, whose decency and sensitivity McCall Smith frequently touts, is only supposed to be 36, but his reticence, especially concerning sex, and the mildly witty, buttoned-down dialogue make both character and time frame seem much older--think 1930s Fred Astaire sidekick. After Paul's girlfriend, Becky, dumps him for her personal trainer (the first of many oh please! moments in a novel rife with cliches) and Paul falls apart, Gloria suggests he take a trip to Tuscany to finish up his book on the Tuscan lifestyle. Arriving in Pisa, he faces a series of unfortunate events one would think an experienced travel writer would manage more handily. Victimized by stereotypically hot-tempered, conceited, and larcenous Italians, he's left without transportation to his destination, the small village of Montalcino, and even lands briefly in jail until the equally stereotypical, charming Italian "cavaliere" whom Paul met on the flight over bails him out and finds a vehicle for him to drive: a bulldozer. That bulldozer also more or less drives the plot, allowing Paul to meet charming American art historian Anna when he pulls her car out of a ditch and involving him, however unknowingly, in several escapades involving Montalcino villagers. Soon romantic complications set in: Paul thinks he's in love with Anna but she has a male friend coming to visit; Becky shows up to apologize, followed for reasons that remain vague by Gloria. Montalcino, of course, is full of natural beauty, ruined buildings, salt-of-the-earth if charming connivers, and underappreciated wine. McCall Smith knows how to concoct delightful fictions, but this one is undercooked.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2016
    Paul Stewart is happily anticipating his stay at the charming Italian town of Montalcino, where he intends to complete his overdue cookbook. But at the airport, there's no record of his rental car reservation and in fact no cars to be had. Then someone offers him a bulldozer. Big book club push.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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