“Paul Stuart, a renowned food writer, finds himself at loose ends after his longtime girlfriend leaves him for her personal trainer. To cheer him up, Paul’s editor, Gloria, encourages him to finish his latest cookbook on-site in Tuscany, hoping that a change of scenery (plus the occasional truffled pasta and glass of red wine) will offer a cure for both heartache and writer’s block. But upon Paul’s arrival, things don’t quite go as planned. A mishap with his rental-car reservation leaves him stranded, until a newfound friend leads him to an intriguing alternative: a bulldozer. With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts the offer, and as he journeys (well, slowly trundles) into the idyllic hillside town on Montalcino, he discovers that the bulldozer may be the least of the surprises that await him. What follows is a delightful romp through the countryside, as Paul encounters a rich cast of characters, including a young American woman who awakens in him something unexpected.”
-Synopsis from inside front cover
My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith is a delightfully funny and pleasant story.
The main character Paul Stuart is a food and wine writer who has set off for a long vacation in Tuscany after experiencing some disappointment in his personal life. As the synopsis mentions, Paul’s plans go haywire from almost the moment he arrives in Italy and is unable to get a rental car. The bulldozer itself does not appear in the story at first, and getting to that point is equal parts funny and made me shake my head at how silly the Italian customs sounded.
Paul encounters many interesting characters and makes several strong friendships. I think my favorite parts of the story were the descriptions of the setting, and the dialogue from the Italian characters.
“We like to live. We like to throw caution to the winds. We delight in life. Going off to Montalcino in a bulldozer may seem odd, even foolish, but it is not. It will get you there, and once there it will take you to other places you may wish to visit. So embrace the opportunity. Set off with a song in your heart. You have a bulldozer, you have an empty road ahead of you; you have three weeks of freedom in the most beautiful landscape in Europe. Is that foolishness? Is it really? I think not, dottore – I think not.”from My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith
There are plenty of interesting goings-on in Montalcino when Paul arrives, but it’s all good fun and creates a colorful story for Paul’s stay.
This was such an enjoyable read. I would recommend it for those who enjoy books about travel, or for anyone looking for a light, pleasant read. It definitely kept me in good spirits both during and after reading. I’m happy to know there’s a sequel and have added it to my reading list.