Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bella Figura

Title:  Bella Figura:  How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way
Author:  Kamin Mohammadi
Publication Information:  Knopf. 2018. 304 pages.
ISBN:  0385354010 / 978-0385354011

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "She walks down the street with a swing in her step and a lift to her head."

Favorite Quote:  "Contentment is probably consumerism's biggest enemy."

Bella Figura is a memoir of a woman's recovery from loss and her redefinition of herself  in a trip to Italy. Kamin Mohammdi is a British author who was born in Iran and left the country during the Iranian Revolution. Her previous work celebrates that heritage and her life in her adopted homeland of Britain. Ten years ago, life brought her to Florence Italy. She now lives and works in the Tuscany region on Italy.

Her work has been appeared in a wide range of publications from the Financial Times to Condé Nast Traveller to Men's Health to the Sunday Times of India. Beyond writing, her work includes running a Tuscan olive grove, producing small batch olive oil, creating and selling olive oil based skin care, teaching yoga, practicing Reiki healing and massage therapy, and hosting workshops and tours based around this book. In other words, she has a fascinating and varied background, one I want to read about.

This book focuses on a period of time when personal heartbreak leads her to Florence, Italy to heal. Mind you, she has the financial resources to do so and a friend with a home to lend her. Through the book, she defines what the idea of bella figura means:

  • "The concept of bella figura is about making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be, whether in Rome, London, New York, or Vancouver."
  • "But it's more about taking care, of speaking beautiful words, being beautiful to yourself, even in private."
  • "Waiting for a party or a man to make you take care of yourself is bullshit. Make la bella figura and make it for yourself. Is not hard."

The advice is sound. Make life beautiful. Make it beautiful for yourself wherever you are. It is an idea that begins on the inside. You carry it with you. I wholeheartedly agree.

So, an author whose experiences I want to read about and a premise I agree with should set up for a moving reading experience. I expect an intersection between memoir, travelogue, and self-help. It is that to an extent with the added bonus of recipes with each chapter although the recipes are not really an integral part of the book. Near the end is also a "how to" on bella figura; again, that too seems simply added on and not necessary to the story actually told in the book. Beyond that unfortunately, for me, the majority of content of the book goes in an entirely different direction.

The bulk of the book seems to be about her dating adventures in Italy and the differences in the dating culture in Italy. To make matters worse, one of the relationships described is an unhealthy one, but for a long while, it persists. This focus in a book about personal development and finding your own joy in life seems to lead away from the concept of bella figura. I am still fascinated by the author and will likely look for her other work; this one was just not for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment