Ciao tutti! Oggi metto in evidenza il nuovo romanzo di Gabriella Contestabile in un nuovo virtual book tour di Laura Fabiani. Il libro è  “The Artisan Star” di Gabriella Contestabile.

Ciao friends! Today I am spotlighting a new book by Gabriella Contestabile in a new virtual book by Laura Fabiani. The book is called “The Artisan Star” by Gabriella Contestabile.


Il libro “The Artisan’s Star” di Gabriella Contestabile a volte sembra una poesia. Nel suo libro l’autrice descrive con amore l’Italia, Firenze, i negozi e i profumi della città. Le descrizioni sono ricche e ben scritte e la sua capacità di catturare su carta osservazioni acute, mi ha fatto ricordare con nostalgia questa bella città medievale situata sulle rive dell’Arno. Le sue descrizioni di cibo e vino mi hanno anche fatto venire l’acquolina in bocca e ero pronta a mangiare un grande piatto di pasta o un pomodoro rosso e succoso. Ha anche splendidamente descritto la gente italiana, i loro vestiti, i loro gioielli, le loro borse in pelle fino ai loro motorini e ai loro scooter.

Gabriella Contestabile’s book “The Artisan’s Star” at times reads like poetry. In her book, the author lovingly describes Italy, Florence, the shops, and the aromas of the city. Her descriptions are quite lavish and beautifully penned and her ability to capture on paper her keen observations made me nostalgic for this lovely medieval city set on the banks of the Arno. Her descriptions of food and wine also made me quite hungry and ready to dive into a big plate of pasta or bite into a juicy red tomato. She also beautifully describes the Italian people, their clothing, their jewelry, their leather bags right down to their bikes and motor scooters.

Photo Credit: Studentessa Matta Desposit Photos

La scrittrice ha anche accuratamente studiato l’arte e la procedura per creare i profumi. Lei è nel suo elemento quando descrive ogni sorta di profumi e aromi, dal cuoio alla lavanda.

The author has also carefully researched the art and process of creating perfumes. She is in her element describing all manner of fragrances and aromas, ranging from leather to lavender.

Photo Credit: Studentessa Matta DepositPhotos

Mi è piaciuto leggere il libro della Contestabile, dal punto di vista di un’artista, viaggiatrice e di qualcuno che adora Firenze. Ma dopo un po’, invece di perdermi nella storia dei personaggi e nella trama, mi sembrava di perdermi in un mare di dettagli. Invece di leggere un romanzo mi sembrava un diario di viaggio. Non ho mai avuto un forte senso della trama, perché i personaggi e le conversazioni sembravano serpeggiare in molte direzioni senza un obiettivo chiaro. Alcune le numerose descrizioni poetiche di profumi e fiori mi sembravano un po’ ripetitive e…sì troppo fiorite!

I enjoyed reading Contestabile’s book from the point of view of an artist, traveler, and someone who absolutely adores Florence. But, as I got deeper into the book, instead of getting lost in the characters and the plot, I felt like I was getting lost in a sea of details. Instead of a novel, I felt like I was reading a travel diary. I never got a strong sense of a story, as the characters and conversations seemed to meander in many directions without a clear purpose. Sometimes the poetic descriptions of scents and flowers also seemed a little repetitive, and well…too flowery!

Photo Credit: Studentessa Matta DepositPhotos

Ero molto incuriosita dalle potenziale narrativo dei personaggi femminili, forti e indipendenti presenti nel libro. Mi sarebbe piaciuto saperne di più della madre Elena, della figlia Romina, della moglie Sofia, dell’insegnante francese Palma, e della vecchia amica Marina. Ognuna delle loro storie avrebbe potuto essere il contenuto di  cinque libri unici. La storia di Elio, d’altra parte, mi sembrava un personaggio più limitato e meno interessante. Secondo me nel complesso c’erano così tante storie e personaggi che a volte la trama diventava impantanato e serpeggiava un po’.

I was very intrigued by the potential of the strong, independent female characters featured in the book. I would have liked to have known more about Elena the mother, Romina the daughter, Sofia the wife, Palma the teacher and lover, and finally Marina the old friend and lover. Each of their stories could have made five interesting books. Elio’s story on the other hand to me seemed limited and less interesting. Overall there I felt there were too many storylines and characters and sometimes the plot was a little muddled and meandered a bit.

Photo Credit: Studentessa Matta DepositPhotos

Per ricapitolare: il libro è pieno di belle descrizioni e bella prosa, ma alla fine si legge più come un diario di viaggio o un discorso su Firenze, i suoi artigiani e mestieri. Che alla fine, non è una cosa del tutto male! Secondo me, il panorama di sfondo ha invaso troppo la storia. Come in tutte le cose, e sopratutto con il profumo “il troppo stroppia” ne basta una goccia!

To recap: the book is full of beautiful prose and lovely descriptions, but at the end of the day the book reads more like a travel lecture about Florence, her artisans, and craftsmen. Which isn’t an entirely bad thing! The book is full of great detail and is rich in description, but rather than using them to support the story, they tended to dominate it. As in all things, and especially with perfume, a little goes a long way!

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  1. Melissa,
    Loved your podcast on the 11 points of learning Italian. While I have not been quite as diligent as you, my journey began much the same way with grammar and vocabulary. My first teacher (a brilliant woman, but who gave me a total complex about speaking) was excellent with vocabulary and particularly conjugations and grammar. As a former English teacher I have always felt that grammar is the underpinning, and taught grammar to my own kids when they were in high school as it was deleted from American curriculum.

    Several different subsequent teachers focused on listening and speaking and helped immensely get me past my “blocco” when it came to speaking. My week with Lucia Dezuani was also very helpful with this. Also, reading Italian literature both historic and contemporary is a huge help. I have read literally close to a hundred books in Italian on my Kindle using an interactive dictionary. Some of the very inexpensive books offered on Amazon, while not works of art, help with fluency and quick reading. Currently my teacher and I have whipped through a young mystery writer’s works (Claudio Ruggeri) that follow the genre of gialli written in both English and Italian. His character, Commissario Germano, and his staff are somewhat of the ilk of Montalbano, the supreme character created by Andrea Camilleri. (While Camilleri’s original works are very difficult to read as they contain so much Sicilian dialetto, I have read them in translation and watched the television series (own all of them) over and over.

    Kudos to you for all you are involved in. The podcasts are great and I listen and understand perfectly. When in Italy I can get myself into and out of most situations fairly gracefully, the next step is more work with the prepositions and more idioms!!! Thank you always!!!!

    1. Ciao Jan! How great to hear from you! So glad you dropped in and left me a comment! I always like to share learning stories and so I am very glad you let me know what you have done and are doing to continue you language studies. It sounds like you are keeping very active and finding very interesting things to do with your Italian. Complimenti! I will have to look up the books by Claudio Rugger, they sound like a nice find.

      Its really nice to know that you are listening to the podcast and are finding them useful. I put a lot of thought into them and learn a lot each time a record one, I’m glad that you are listening and are enjoying them.

      Drop in anytime and leave me a message. Love hearing from you! A presto! Melissa

  2. Thank you Melissa for the multi-faceted and beautifully illustrated bilingual review. I’m glad it transported you back to Florence and I hope you did dive into that big plate of pasta. I also very much enjoyed reading your skillful prose in both English and Italian. I follow your posts so this is all in keeping with your spirited and honest take on life.

    I agree with you about the female characters and have become attached to them myself. So much so they may appear in a collection of short stories also set in Italy but featuring female protagonists. I also appreciate your candid commentary on the novel/travelogue nature of “The Artisan’s Star”.

    Grazie Mille!

    1. Ciao Gabriella! che onore sentirti! What a thrill to have you read my post and follow along the blog and Matta Facebook page. I certainly look forward to your next books and learning more about the lovely female characters you have created. I hope we can meet some day…perhaps in our beloved city of Firenze! Un abbraccio! A presto! 🙂