When travel writer Brian Johnston accepted an invitation to travel to Italy with a friend, for her god-daughter’s confirmation, he imagined an opportunity to savour Italian culture and cooking, and perhaps the chance to eat a real cassata. What he didn’t expect was to be caught up in the flamboyant dramas of a Sicilian family and the village in which it resided.
Sicilian Summer is a memoir of Johnston’s summer spent staying with his friend’s family. It recounts the places they visited and the food they ate, as well as the dramas they witnessed. There are also the characters he met: the parish priest enjoying his power and refusing to confirm the goddaughter; the reclusive lady who, because of a promise she made her father, doesn’t leave the house except to go to mass; and his friend’s parents, who offer generous hospitality.
This is an interesting read with a blend of travelogue and memoir. At times it feels like watching a cooking show (Johnston, it quickly becomes apparent, loves food), at others a soap opera. There is no time for the reader to get bored.
A very readable tale.
Sicilian Summer, by Brian Johnston
Allen & Unwin, 2005