This book alternately amused me and annoyed me. The subject is promising–a family of six, already widely traveled, decides to get away from the pressure of everyday life in America for a month in Italy.
Mostly, the father, Chris Brady, author of
A Month of Italy Rediscovering the Art of Vacation, decides HE needs to get away from HIS business. Since he and his wife Terri home school their four children, he uses the educational opportunities as a selling point to his wife. However, if his portrayal of Terri is accurate, she pretty much goes along with whatever Chris comes up with.
We never learn if Terri also sees this as a chance to “get away” but with four children to look after while Chris takes off for rides in the hills of Tuscany on his motorcycle or in the villa for his writing time, Terri has shopping to do and meals to cook and four children to round up. It does not sound like much of a break from HER busy-ness at Mommy, Inc.
In spite of the annoyances in A Month of Italy, Brady gets points for sharing some really interesting facts and trivia about Italy; and for not painting his children as adorable little geniuses. The kids come off as pretty normal. And I love the great travel quotes at the beginning of each chapter. My hat is off to Brady (or an assistant) who came up with this collection, which could almost make a book in themselves, since there are 38 chapters. On the other hand, it reminds us that what it takes Brady 11 pages to say, was once summed up pretty neatly in a line or two.
Chris Brady, when he is not selling the idea of lengthy vacations, is a bombastic, hard-sell, inspirational speaker and writer. (If you question the description, take a listen to his “welcome” video on the books website.) His mission is to convince American business people to take a lengthy vacation. In A Month of Italy, he aims squarely at the people whom his own business teaches (with books and seminars) how to strive for success.
However, a month off sounds a bit tame in the face of the blossoming number of websites and blogs devoted to people with or without partners and children who sell everything and take to the world-wide road. From solo travelers like Barbara at Hole in the Donut, to the family of three in Soul Travelers 3 and from the Canadian couple, the Hecks who house sit, to the Indie Budget Travel Podcast couple from New Zealand who couch surf around the world, we are inundated with examples of people for whom a month is small potatoes. Not to mention major companies like Intel, who grant regular sabbaticals.
When he is not lecturing us, Chris Brady cracks wise about just about everything…poking fun at himself for adventures with the rental van which doesn’t quite fit into Italian parking spaces, let along medieval villages in Tuscany. He makes fun of his ignorance of fine food and wine, calling himself a “food Neanderthal.” About getting scammed by the fake Roman Guards at the coliseum. And we hear about his misadventures with the language, which definitely should not be one of the subjects for his home schooling of the kids, if we are to believe his self characterization.
But, see, I’m doubting several things Chris relates. We’re supposed to believe that neither he nor his wife know the name of the town on the Amalfi Coast where the first villa they booked is located. At least they know the name of the villa, and Terri has the good sense to call the manager for directions. I particularly have doubts about his kids enthusiasm for his long-winded expositions on history. He does admit their limit at one point, when after a day of touring the Vatican,
“We finally left without climbing to the top of the dome or touring the crypts of former popes below…Seeing the body of deceased Pope John XXIII in a glass coffin didn’t even interest the kids. That’s when I knew they had had it.”
And I did mention that Brady is long-winded? I suspected logorrhea might be the diagnosis, when I saw the length of the book. Brady describes 30 days in 332 pages. (Not counting appendices.) Eleven pages per day? To me, that indicates a serious lack of a stern editor axing repetitions and extraneous detail. Selectivity? Not much. Focus? Scattered. Is this a travelogue of Italy? Yes. An education in Italian history? Yes. Is this a how-to-travel with a family of six? Yes. Is this what Brady repeatedly SAYS it is–an inspiration to workaholics to take a long break? Yes. Does this book extol Slow Travel? Yes. Could that be a few too many foci? Yes.
You must decide for yourself if the nuggets of information and the wisecracks are sufficient reward for reading this motivational travel book.
The web site for the book shares plenty of interesting information, and I think as a traveler who reads, you’ll particularly like Chris Brady’s suggestions for further reading on Italy. You will find his book recommendations here.
Here is a video from the author’s webpage (also found on You Tube) in which he reads from the book.
Are you among the people who needs to get more than a two-week vacation? or even be convinced to take the vacation coming to you?
Disclaimers: The book was provided for review, with no guarantees of the outcome. All the pictures here are mine. The video is available publicly on You Tube. The links to Amazon enable you to buy the book if you wish, and at the same time support A Traveler’s Library. It costs no more when you shop through our Amazon links, but we make a few cents. Go on, buy anything you want. Thanks!