Research and italian stuff
Being italian and having relatives in Tuscany, I must say the author made a wonderful, wonderful research job on this book.
In particular, names are very tuscan. For example "Riccarda", Chiara's mother is a name you can find probably only in Tuscany.
Places, customes, jokes, language expressions are all exactly correct. But let me say, also the spirit of the italian life style is correct in the novel. And this is not taken for granted at all, because we see so many american works about Italy which are merely stereotypes!
Also, I'd like to mention the sound farm life description. I'm not an expert in this case, but again, Meagher describe realistically
a life which is hard and challenging, not a mere bucolic dream.Romance and story
The two main characters are both very nice. They are both strong, but each one with their frailities, and this makes them so complex and interesting, expecially as female characters.
Another original point here is about having somehow less angst between the two women. They are so in love with each other that at almost exactly half the book they are a couple no longer up for discussion. The story then revolves about saving the life they choose to live, but not about being a couple, which is already achieved. I found it heartwarming, even if it's not the usual romance cliché.
I think a minor flaw in the story is about Aldo, Nic's father. His behaviour toward his daughter is really too much. That if the author's intention was to describe a good man with some issues, made up at the end. But I found him to be indeed a bad father. No trust in her daugher, no listening at all. Of course that adds drive to the tale, but also ruined all my sympathy for the character.Siena and the Palio
I'll go now a little OT and I'm going to describe my experience of Siena and the Palio, which is so significative in this story.
I regard Siena as one of the most beautiful italian cities, and that's something, consent me to say. A wonderfully preserved medieval burg, immersed in the most lovable country, Siena is really a jewel of Tuscany and Italy as a whole. Life there is relaxed, people open and likeable.
I have never been there for the Palio race, but I have been there the day before, and I tell you, it's impossible to leave the city unaffected. It's quite an experience indeed.
As a latin proverb says: semel in anno licet insanire
(once in a year it's allowed to become mad).
The city literally burst with life. Colours of the contrade
attire the whole city. Long rows of tables occupy the narrow streets in every corner of the city for night banquets and parties. And you hear drums and girls' choruses and chants everywhere: "To-to-torre!!!", "O-o-onda!!!", "Chio-chio-chiocciola!!!" and so on. And then all to the magnificent Campo place to see the trials with horses.
For the readers of The Crush, the book was published in 2013, and in that year the contrada dell'Onda
or, more precisely, the "supreme" contrada dell'Onda
, as it is called, won the Palio in August.