Like a lot of people I know, I went through the travel novels on Provence, getting bored with them toward the end and needing a break. It seemed as if flocks of Brits and Americans were going abroad, not making money and deciding to write about their woes in order to fund their mistakes.
So why pick this little gem up? It smacks of the same sort of thing, surely. Okay so the scene has changed to Liguria in Italy - it's still the same, isn't it? Well, yes and no.
What makes this a must read in my eyes is the fact that Annie and her sister are willing to integrate, to learn by their mistakes and also to glory in their mistakes and misunderstandings. Annie is not your typical 'I am a Brit abroad looking for a Brit way of life plus good weather' this is a full blown attempt to integrate into the way of life - an attempt to learn how to survive a peasant way of life in a peasant community.
It is an eye opener for anyone that thinks Annie is the clever intellectual from a first world country who will laugh at peasant superstition and way of life. In this world the peasant has all the knowledge and the generosity to share that knowledge and to help physically also.
One of the few novels that I have started to read and finished the same day.