Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes

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Extra Virgin introduces a major new voice in this delicious tale of two sisters who find unexpected joy in the isolated village of Diano San Pietro, Italy.

How could anyone leave such a lovely place to go to rack and ruin? It looks as if no one has ever been near it for decades, its land's untended and its olive tress unkept.  I want it every badly.  It ought to be mine.

In 1983 a pale Annie Hawes and her equally pale sister decide to leave England for the sun-drenched olive groves of a small Italian town in Liguria.  With fantasies of handsome tanned men and swimming in the sea urging them on, they sign up to graft roses-something they know nothing about, but as it is a bad year for olives, they figure they can fake a knowledge of roses for ten weeks.  What they don't count on is falling in love with Italy-and with one old farmhouse in particular.

Although they quickly realize that Liguria is not Tuscany -- it is undiscovered by tourists, and its inhabitants (none of whom appear to be handsome, and none of whom seem to be under forty) have strict ideas about what young Englishwomen should and shouldn't be doing("to go swimming in seawater outside the month of July or August is even worse for your health than drinking cappuccino after twelve noon!") they simply cannot resist the charm exuded by the little town.  Annie, who has never wanted to settle down anywhere, now doesn't want to leave.  How will she find a way to make this old derelict farmhouse her own? What will the Ligurians think about their wild new neighbor with her strange ways staying on for good?

Extra Virgin is a wonderful memoir, written with irresistible verve and humor.  Annie Hawe's adventures will captivate readers who have wondered what happens when you fall in love with a certain house, on a certain hill, near a certain village. After eighteen years living as a Ligurian, Annie tells a story that is much more realistic than nay other book on Italy, and Extra Virgin is sure to put Liguria in the minds of travelers, armchair and real alike.


About Annie Hawes

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Anne Hawes has worked for the past fifteen years as a freelance film editor. She has lived in France and Africa as well as her native England. She now lives most contentedly in Liguria, Italy.
Published January 9, 2001 by Harper. 352 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Extra Virgin

Kirkus Reviews

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Liguria is an olive-growing area, and when the women arrive, olive prices are in the pits, resulting in a depressed local economy and even more depressed local inhabitants.

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The Guardian

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A Parrot in the Pepper Tree, by Chris Stewart, (Penguin, 3hrs, £8.99) What makes Chris Stewart's version of the expat saga so much better than all the others is that when he bought his Spanish farmhouse 12 years ago he wasn't playing at being an Andalusian shepherd: he genuinely became one, an...

Jul 06 2002 | Read Full Review of Extra Virgin

Story Circle Book Reviews

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Feb 11 2003 | Read Full Review of Extra Virgin

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