Woman’s Best Friend

Marcus of Umbria was a must read per the wonderful Jennifer Lancaster.  This book is a wonderful true story of Justine van der Leun, and her time spent in Collelungo, Italy, population 200.  There she met Emmanuel Cruciani who she nearly hunted down and forced him to become her boyfriend, and his family became her second family.  While wandering through their farm she came across Marcus who was locked in a pen all by herself, Justine took to the dog immediately, and took it in as her own. 

This story, though titled after the dog, is not solely about Marcus.  It is about the challenges of moving to a foreign country, learning a new language and customs, adjusting to the way people live their lives.  It faces the challenges of relationships, as the one with Emmanuel was clearly not meant to last, to make up for what they were missing they decide to buy horses.  Some people break up.  They bought horses.  Relationship dynamics are addressed and each chapter brings you deeper into the Italian culture, with Marcus along for the ride.  The cultural differences alone regarding the dog are interesting enough; in this town most people don’t appreciate dogs and their loyalty.  Dog owners leave their dogs in the street when going on holidays, allowing it to fend for themselves, so you can imagine how the Cruciani family felt when Justine let the dog sleep inside!  The story is quite funny, especially when she discusses her mistakes with the Italian language.  As her first novel it is written wonderfully.  It is a short book but selfishly I wish she had stayed longer in Italy so I could have read more.  Dog lover or not, you will enjoy this delightful book.

-Anne

Next Book: A Visit from the Good Squad – Jennifer Egan

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