7.7.11

Book Review: Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita

Book: Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita

Genre: Travel narrative/ Non-fiction

Author: Barbara Conelli

Cover Critique: 

A sketch of a bohemian chic girl with a big Italian hat and funky travel bags on the cover is good enough to understand that this book is about a girl’s journey to the fashion capital of Italy, Milan. The lemony background is bright and lively in sync with the zest of life which this book promises to talk about.
I just love this glamorous shiny cover!

Review:

“Chique” means stylish and hip girl. “Dolce” means ‘sweet’ and “vita” means ‘life’ in Italian, so the title suggests that the book is quintessentially about knowing the secrets of living ‘a sweet life’ in a stylish way – more precisely, the Italian way! The writer has used a mix of Italian words and phrases here and there, which makes the stories of Italian people, sensually sweet and fascinating to read. The book starts with these words which perfectly sum up the gist of life as well as the theme of this book, “La vita e bella, life is beautiful and the most amazing wonders of this world often hide in the simplest things.”

There are sketches with every chapter which help you visualise the things, scenery or people which the writer talks about in detail. The book is not a travel guide with maps and locations to tour Italy; it explores further into the lives of common people and tells the stories of simple Italian men and women from fashion designers to small village bakery shop owners. It does not just tell about Italian art and its awe-inspiring museums and galleries but about life in general and how to make the most of it by being aware of who you are and by appreciating the people and the place around you. It is more like a “self-discovery” than just being able to witness the lifestyle and the rich culture of Milan.

It helps the reader appreciate the breathtaking ‘sights and sounds’ of Italy while reading about the hidden aspects of its cultural heritage and legacy, apart from ‘fashion’ and its famous ‘nightlife’. The chapters are short and words used are irresistibly sweet filled with the warmth of Barbara’s heart and made me feel the heat and soul of Milanese. For example, while telling about Brera, she personifies this Milanese quarter near La Scala, by calling it a “capricious woman” who “gets under your skin, whether you like it or not”. In another chapter, she talks about a mysterious saxophonist who plays in the streets and how she later finds out about his real identity. There is so much passion in the stories infused with elegance and wit that it made me finish this book in one sitting.

I have never been to Italy but after reading this book, I want to go there and witness everything from my eyes especially the places that Barbara describes in this fantastic book and maybe meet that sixty years old lady who has been working at a local silk factory for past 30 years or perhaps go to eat Da Gancio’s famous polenta with butter and home-made cheese along with a glass of home-made rose wine. The diversity of famous Italian food made me sigh with temptation and filled my mouth with the unknown flavours like those of delicious home-made saffron risotto. Ah! The gourmet pleasures!

At the end of each chapter, the writer concludes one secret towards achieving that ‘tranquillity’ and finding ‘happiness’ from within. It is like a spiritual journey and reminded me of the pulsating energy I felt when I used to listen to Ricky Martin’s “Livin La Vida Loca”. The book does not teach or preach with moral lessons but states a philosophy, a way of living which is “to stay young at heart, forever, no matter where you are or what you do”.

I highly recommend this book to people who love to travel and unravel the mysteries of different cultures and who are open to learn and experiment new things in life, without any inhibitions. I enjoyed this book a lot and being a sucker for travel books, I have already read it three times. For me, it serves like meditation. It does not matter whether you have been to Italy, you will never go to Italy or you live in Italy, the book still offers something for every kind of reader. Just read it, you will love it for sure!

Review Girl Rating: 10/10

“I would like to thank Barbara Conelli for sending me a free copy of her book, “Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita” for the purpose of reviewing it on my blog. To buy this book on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback, click here.”


32 comments:

  1. It sounds sooo good--right up my alley.
    My grandma came to America from Italy; I guess that's why I love anything Itallian ;)

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  2. I love to "slow" travel. Not moving from one place to the next with a checklist, but stay a while and get to know the locals, food and area.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

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  3. @Elisa: Hey, now that's good to know. You must be knowing Italian language and food then?? Any favourites?:)

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  4. @Man of la book: Same here, that's best way to know the "real" place instead of just roaming with a guide and trying to cover everything in those paid hours.

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  5. Komal, thank you so much for this wonderful review. I love the way you have captured the atmosphere of my book, and I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed reading it. Reviews like yours give me energy and encouragement to continue writing! I'm humbled by your beautiful words.

    Be Chique! ;)

    Barb

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  6. @Elisabeth: A Milanese friend of mine says that when Italian blood runs in the family, you can feel it immediately! :) When you fall in love with Italy, you can be sure this romance is for life!

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  7. @Man of la book: I absolutely agree. Feeling the atmosphere of the place and experiencing its everyday life is the best and most rewarding way to travel. This is how you create beautiful travel memories...

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  8. @Barbara: Its my pleasure to get a chance to read and review such an amazing book. I think there are very few people who dare to write in this genre and not many do it right, but yours was a delight - a breath of fresh air!

    I am glad you liked my review so much and wish you best of luck for your book!:)

    Thanks so much for personally replying to my reader's comments. I just love it when authors interact with readers, shows professionalism and ethics from author's side.

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  9. A nice review. My grandparents on my mother's side came from northern Italy and I have been to Italy. I look forward to reading this book.

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  10. I have read many travelogues but never by a female writer as Chique secrets of DolceVita about a female traveller by Barbra Conelli. It must be very interesting. I like the beautiful cover. The travel into inner n outer self of people of Italy attracting me. Komal! your style of analysing a peace of literature is also really captures my soul.Definitly Im going to read it.

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  11. @Leona: Stay tuned in for a guest post from Barbara, you will surely like that too!:)
    @ankhseojhal: Thanks for your lovely feedback. Its worth the read, grab it soon!;)

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  12. What a wonderful, insightful review! I loved this book of Barbara Conelli's as well for many different reasons and look forward to her next one. She takes you right into the heart and soul of Italy with poignancy and humor and leaves you wanting to hear more!

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  13. @Patricia: Thanks so much for enjoying my review. I completely agree with you. She reminds me of my grandma who used to tell me exotic tales of far-off places, Barbara has got that magical quality of story-telling!:)

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  14. @Leona: Thank you, Leona! I'm sure your grandparents had many wonderful stories about Italy to tell!

    @ankhseojhal: Thank you very much for the comment, I'm glad you like the cover. And I absolutely agree, Komal's reviews capture the soul!

    @Patricia: Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind, encouraging words!

    @Komal: Thank you so much. I really love being here and interacting with readers. It is so wonderfully rewarding to be able to talk to everyone and get their feedback and thoughts. That's what makes writing worthwhile!

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  15. Wow, a 10 out of 10? That must mean it's great! I normally don't read nonfiction, but this sounds so good! I normally don't travel, but I do hope to in the future! And I love shopping and anything girly girl, so I think I'd really enjoy this! Thanks so much for the review!

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  16. I love Canada, and have never had much of a desire to visit other countries. But, Barbara, you entice me with Milan! And of course, Komal, your reviews bring a little extra twist!

    Thank you Ladies, (must go and check locale of Milan......)

    Patricia

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  17. I'm sold.I love travel novels and Italy. This seems to be about both. I love reading about Italy and have some memoirs and travelogues. Would love to add this to my collection. Just did a whimsical post on Sicily :)

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  18. @Jessica: Yeah, so true, shopping is like a therapy..lol ;)
    @Patricia: I love the way you frame your words.."extra twist"...Spicy!;)
    @Pandora: Okay, you MUST share your collection with me, seems like we have this passion in common. Heading over to your blog now!:)

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  19. I have been longing to go to Italy, I love the food, history and music. Sounds like I would really enjoy this book.

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  20. I love everything to do with Italy! it sounds like an amazing read, I'll definitely be adding it to my TBR pile.

    Have a great weekend!

    www.obsessionwithbooks.blogspot.com

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  21. @Carol and Sharon: Ladies, You are gonna love this book!:)

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  23. I haven't read this book,but after reading your review,I am definitely going to read it !

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  24. Ladies, thank you so much for your wonderful - and very Chique - comments! I'm glad you like Komal's review, and I hope you enjoy the book!

    Komal, your review of Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita is my absolutely favorite. I keep it in my journal and re-read it each time I get "writer's blues" :)

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  25. beautiful book! with much to intrigue me ~ i will anticipate my chance to read this and thank you for introducing us to both Barbara and her writing..

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  26. sounds great! I've been in Italy only once, for two-weeks holiday, but I was just sunbathing and eating ice-cream and swimming in the sea, so I'm planning another holiday more cultural :)

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  27. Lovely interview! What makes me even more eager to read this book is your mention about it being more like a "self-discovery" type of book! That makes me want to read it even more :)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

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  28. Despite being totally un-stylish, I suppose it doesn't mean I can't read a book about fashion and shopping!

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  29. @Zoey, Julie, Ceri: Thanks for your lovely comments. I truly appreciate!:)

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  30. I really love that cover! Stylish yet simple. Want to go to Italy so bad! Me and my friends are actually planning to go on a trip around the world...after high school.

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  31. Komal, I must say you did it! You really turned me on to this book. I have spent quite a bit of time in Italy (Venice, Florence, and Tuscany), never Milan...but always in the residential areas where you are close to the locals and can get to know them, their food, their culture, etc. I stayed in a girl's academy one summer across from a bakery... yummm. and in a Nunnery on a canal. I know I'd love reading Barbara's book about Milan...again I feel a connection to her travel style and desire to know the people where they live. Thanks for a great review.

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  32. Thanks Loony and Nancy.
    @Nancy: I have never been to the places you mentioned but seen the documentaries and travel shows (would love to go one day). I used to watch Anthony B's show regularly and these days, its Floyd's show. I think they have the coolest job ever...getting paid for travelling to different places and tasting local food...lol...what a joy! ;)
    Thanks so much for appreciating my review...makes me so happy!:)

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