A concise, elegant literary gem, The Evening of the Holiday (first published in 1966) is one of those novels that, through sheer force of language, elevates the prosaic to extraordinary and the mundane to profound. On holiday in the northern Italian countryside, Sophie (half-Italian/half-English) meets Tancredi, an older man separated from his family. Though she claims not to find him attractive at first ("except in so far as he has the qualities that are attractive about Italy itself - grace and the lack of earnestness"), the two fall in love to the backdrop of sun-drenched countryside strolls and local-festival merriment. Hazzard's sharp prose perceptively illuminates the inner worlds of the two lovers, their contrasting notions of romance, their misreading of the other's intentions, their fickle but intense emotions. It's simultaneously a loving portrayal of the Tuscan countryside, and an evocation of the subtle hardships of living in a foreign country. Short and sweet - but packed with exquisite and underline-worthy insights - The Evening of the Holiday is perfect beach or travel reading for the literary set.
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