I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books, “An Italian Affair” by Laura Fraser. I am literally on my third copy of this; I had ‘loaned’ out the previous two. I was reading it recently for two reasons, (1) this new copy came courtesy of my sister when she visited earlier in the merry month of May, and (2) I am finally going to visit Italy for the first time, in about six weeks, and I am starting to get really excited about that trip.
This book is my very favorite of three books I love in this genre of “travel memoir,” all three of which involve a single woman travelling alone in Europe. Here are my one sentence summaries:
- Laura Fraser, “An Italian Affair,” An American divorcee meets a French art professor in Italy, and meets him for romantic interludes in different cities around the world over the course of the next few years.
- Sarah Turnbull, “Almost French,” An Australian woman spending a year travelling meets a Frenchman in Bucharest and eventually moves to Paris to start a life with him.
- Alice Steinbach, “Without Reservations,” An American divorcee meets a Japanese man in Paris and meets him for romantic interludes in different cities around the world over the course of the next few years. (There’s a sequel, “Educating Alice” with the continuing adventures)
In all three cases, I read the books before I had ever even visited Europe, so on some level these were fantasies and on some level they became slightly prophetic when I started travelling alone in Europe. (Except that I never managed to meet either a handsome French or Japanese man along the way…) In all three cases there was an obvious romantic component but the real and primary themes of the books were self-discovery. Although I have optimistically gone on to read other books in this genre (Italy and France seem to be particularly well-represented) I have never found another that I like as well as these three.