Thin Paths : Journeys in and Around an Italian Mountain Village, Paperback

Thin Paths : Journeys in and Around an Italian Mountain Village Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Biography Award and the 2012 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize Julia Blackburn and her husband moved to a little house in the mountains of northern Italy in 1999.

She arrived as a stranger but a series of events brought her close to the old people of the village and they began to tell her their stories.

Of how their village had been trapped in an archaic feudal system and owned by a local padrone who demanded his share of all they had, of the eruption of the Second World War, of the conflict between the fascists and the partisans, of death and fear and hunger of how they hid like like foxes in the mountains. 'Write it down for us,' they said, 'because otherwise it will all be lost.' Thin Paths is a celebration of the songlines of one place that could be many places and a celebration of the humour and determination of the human spirit.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social & cultural history
  • ISBN: 9780099549420



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If Julia Blackburn has committed a bad word to print then I haven't read it. This is a beautiful memoir of ordinary lives in a series of mountain villages in northern Italy - that really could be a microcosm of village life anywhere. This has a lot in common with the work of John Berger, and his "Into Their Labours" series. You are struck by how little has actually happened - each life defined by one or two key events, rather than a modern swirl of activity. But these are long, happy and fulfilled lives and Blackburn's writing is wonderfully evocative of a much slower tempo of life. So why only 4 stars? Its the photos. Black and white doesn't do them justice. It makes everything seem gray, monotone and depressing - which is not I think what the author intended. But otherwise wonderful

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