Subject: Holiday reading
Hello to all, there is still time to read by the shore or on your way to faraway places. This extraordinarily literate group seems always bashing off on holiday the year round.

M.F.K. Fisher wrote several books about the years she spent in France, which takealong handily in paperback: As They Were, Map of Another Town, Two Towns in Provence, Long Ago in France--not fiction, but the entwining of humanity observed and food shared.

I never leave home without Iris Murdoch, the lighter ones, i.e. Nuns and Soldiers or The Italian Girl for starters. Joanne Harris is a good traveler--Five Quarters of an Orange or Chocolat.

John Mortimer's (the Rumpole author) Summer's Lease is a mystery set around Siena. His recent autobiographical Summer of a Dormouse is a hoot for the senior crowd.

Stuffed: the adventures of a restaurant family, though a personal memoir by Patricia Volk on growing up in NYC, features characters worthy of any fiction and reveals vintage New York.

Sometimes I pick from the Tuscan farmhouse bookshelf, exploring what other travelers have left behind, which is how I came to read Lynda La Plante, the Liverpool writer of Cold Shoulder, Cold Heart, and Cold Blood. These are adventures of a lady cop turned private investigator. LaPlante wrote the script for the PBS Prime Suspect series.

The Last Castrato by John Spencer Hill and The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga are good introductions to other books by these authors. In reserve for my next trip is The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears, who writes solid historical mystery novels.

There is a most complete reading list in Chapter Seven of Darlene Marwitz' Italy Fever. She cites all the authors that I read and consider worth reading: Lisa St. Aubin de Teran, Ferenc Mate, Eric Newby, Elizabeth Romer (The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley,) to name a few. These writers are not limited to writing about Italy, of course. I include cookbooks in my reading for the historical detail.

>From another perspective, one of my traveling companions rereads Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen for fun.

My definition of holiday reading is a tale which will get me through a transatlantic flight and the subsequent three a.m. awakening, and a copy which does not object to a few tomatoey olive oil stains.

Happy holiday,

Jane Estus