An Iranian-born British journalist goes to Italy on an extended work sabbatical and unexpectedly finds the fulfillment that had been absent from her life.
When Mohammadi (The Cypress Tree, 2011) lost what she thought was her dream job as an editor for a prestigious magazine in London, she was overweight, overworked, and miserably unhappy. So she took her severance pay and went to live in Florence, where she gave herself one year to try to make it as a writer. Florentines immediately welcomed her with open arms and taught her the concept of “la bella figura,” or “making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be.” Taking this cultural lesson to heart, the author embraced the slower pace of life. She shopped at open-air markets for fresh foods and learned how to appreciate the benefits of olive oil, which she took like “medicine four times a day…sometimes drinking [it] straight from a tablespoon.” Within a short time, the weight she had been unable to lose in London fell away. Feeling more confident in her newly glowing skin and body, Mohammadi began to wear more stylish clothes that celebrated the femininity she had hidden away in shame “under shapeless black clothes.” When an Italian playboy named Dino came into her life, she exuberantly indulged in a sensuality and sexuality she had all but abandoned. The broken heart she suffered afterward became part of an “education” that led her to greater self-appreciation. Her new openness eventually led her to a man whose life as a twice-divorced father of three children she accepted and loved despite its messy complications. Interspersed throughout with delicious recipes and bella figura–inspired lifestyle tips, the book is a down-to-earth modern-day fairy tale for the world-weary that celebrates personal transformation and all things delectably Italian.
A charming, delightful memoir of self-transformation.