I’ll admit that when the publishers of Marcus of Umbria : What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love, by Justine van der Leun, contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a review copy, I was a bit skeptical.
I just couldn’t imagine what type of book a dog would write about love, even if said dog was writing it in or about Umbria.
But, as I said, I’m a sucker for an Italian memoir, so I agreed to the copy and I’m so glad that I did.
I soon realized that Marcus of Umbria wasn’t really a book about a dog at all. It’s more of a memoir about an American girl and her time in a tiny Umbrian town with a man, his family and a dog.
I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. The title baffles me just a bit, but that is something I’ll fault the publishers and marketers for – not the author. The book ended up being much more interesting to me than what the misleading title would have me think.
My measure of a good book is based on how strong a desire I have to read it each and every night – and how hard I fight sleep while I struggle to keep my eyes open, just to be able to get another chapter in before I turn the light out.
And my desire with this one was very strong.
I thoroughly enjoyed it,though I did at times question her motivation for making some of her choices along the way.
I did think the small snippets of the relationship between her and the dog were heart-warming, though the details that are revealed about canine life in some parts of Italy is enough to send any animal-lover to the Bel Paese to set up a local animal rescue.
I enjoyed her stories of the characters, her boyfriend, his family and her vivid, yet believable descriptions of what rural farm life is like in Collelungo, a tiny Umbrian village with a population of 200. Perhaps what I found most refreshing was that this memoir, unlike many others, didn’t paint a pretty picture, didn’t involve rich people renovating a villa, sipping expensive bottles of wine and traveling all over the Italy in an Alfa Romeo.
Instead, this one seemed, honest and accurate.
Toward the end of the book, I found myself growing increasingly agitated when the author, who knows she’ll be moving back to New York, is faced with the decision of what to do with her adopted dog Marcus. But in the end, I was relieved after she finally came to the right decision and everything worked out the way it should – a happy ending if you will.
I certainly think this a worth a read! So, I have decided to give my review copy away to one lucky reader!
UPDATE: CONTEST IS CLOSED
Here are the deets on the contest:
For your chance to win Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love, just leave a comment on this post by midnight EST on Sunday October 31st, with your answer to this question:
What small town or village in Italy would you love to move to and why?
The winner will be announced on Monday, November 1st on my Facebook Fan Page!
And after you leave your comment here, head over to Ciao Bambino to learn how to win a fabulous vacation in Tuscany!