thin paths by julia Blackburn

09/07/2012 - 18:51

Thanks to whoever it was who recommended this book. A beautiful and elegiac account of old ways of life in the Ligurian mountains. Without being at all sentimental



on the Radio 4 broadcast one of the episodes was called "The devil of Carpasio". Carpasio borders Molini di Triora in the Valle Argentina, inland from Arma di Taggia. We went up there recently for their Wild West festa. Triora is famous as the town of the witches.

I'm ordering the book! I know the area, as a few years ago, when we first decided to buy a house in Italy, we stayed for a few days at Arma di Taggia and we inspected some inland properties. A beautiful area, although I found it a bit isolated and we decided to look further south in Tuscany. I still remember those narrow paths and that the area was mainly inhabited by elderly people. their stories about a feudal society must be fascinating.

  Wow, that is a coincidence!  We were ‘in residence’ a few weeks ago and our Italian/English friends recommended the book. Apparently, the author is English and her husband Dutch, vice versa in our case winkOff to check if it is available in Kindle format.smiley

I'm really pleased Thin Paths is being read. I know I mentioned it on the site a while ago but dont know if I was the first. OH and I both read it during our  recent (just back) 3 weeks in the other end of Liguria and it really is beautifully written. I told my Italian neighbour about it and she said the same system of the padrone taking a share of everything, even the women, happened in this area too . She also talked about her memories of the women carrying animal feed and everything in baskets on their heads, just like in the book. She is not yet 73! Another book I keep reading bits of in Italy, which was recommended on this site is the one first published in 1908 by Lena Duff Gordon when she came to live in the Fortezza in Aulla. One thing that amazed me was when she talked about her friend the primary school teacher who was the only teacher in the school and had 70 pupils of all ages. They spoke different dialects and had to learn Italian in school She said this was quite normal to have such a large class. Corporal punishment was illegal even then and even lines could not be given. It is so interesting to read about the history, the not so distant past of your neighbours, as well as the experiences of newcomers (I also enjoyed Diary of a Single Parent). I have read quite a few of the books people have suggested here and I can only say please keep sharing anything you find.

Have not read an Italian themed book for a while so Thin Paths sounds like it'll be my next good read & I'm looking forward to it after a few too many Scandinavian crime thrillers. We also had a serious look in "the Strip of Bacon"  for property after being told by a cousin that it was a highly favoured retirement destination for Torinese & Milanese. We had a few of other reasons for going there anyway: (1) it was on the way to Tuscany via the Apuan Alps, (2)we both had read a couple of light hearted books set in one of it's hillside villages, (3) it had a village very close to Imperia after which a very close member of my family was named because her mother, having been given a bottle of olive oil from the village, was blown away by the flavour, (4) we could visit a childhood friend that had a holiday home in a "by foot only access" area on the Cinque Torre with the most stunning views from the tiny strips of terraces down onto the sparkling azure sea. I remember the Sage bushes the size of box hedging growing wild everywhere & the most humungous great green eyeless revolting maggotty thing, the size of a Lincolnshire sausage, tumbling, with a purpose, down the stone steps on it's way God knows where to do God knows what.     Liguria was a little dissapointing though. The seafront proms were populated mainly by pairs of wrinklies in matching shell-suits & the interior, after the acres of glass-houses & the odd pretty olive clad slopes, seemed to be just mile upon mile of Chestnut forests. The killer for us was the Torinese bikers that came hacking round a blind bend on the wrong side of a pretty narrow road & bent our pristine Audi.  I'll still read the book though &, I dare say, wish I had been a little more patient with Liguria. Pilch