My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

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My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Silly and delightful, a heart-warming story that might leave you needing a bowl of some really good pasta!
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 240 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781846973550

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I do love to sit down with a new book by AMS, and the excitement was doubled on this occasion since a new standalone story meant lots of brand new characters to meet, and also the book has a very intriguingly bizarre title! In this story we get to meet Paul, a food writer who, after a rather upsetting break-up with his girlfriend, heads to Tuscany to finish writing his book. So far, so normal, but of course things soon get a little unusual, beginning with Paul’s arrest on his arrival in Italy and moving swiftly on to the point where instead of a hire car he finds himself with a hired bulldozer…

There are all the things I love about AMS’s stories in this book, with extreme silliness described in the most gentle, believable way. Because I believed in Paul as a character, I absolutely believed that he would jump aboard a bulldozer and drive it through the Tuscan countryside. After a little while it seems a perfectly normal situation to be in. His characters are diverse, thought-provoking and entertaining, and his descriptions of the small village of Montalcino and the surrounding countryside left me wanting to plan a holiday to Italy.

I liked the small mysteries within the story, be they about dangerous Italian criminals on the run or a lone vineyard owner, vying to have his wine named a particular sort of wine. The threads of stories weave together in a charming way, with lots of down to earth thoughts on food, wine and love. The story didn’t always follow the direction that I thought it would, and I liked that. I also particularly enjoyed the awkwardness very near the beginning of the book when Paul’s friend, Gloria, persuades him to arrange a dinner party with some old friends, to attempt to cheer him up and move on from his girlfriend, Becky’s, betrayal. Gloria rather unwisely instructs everyone to be very careful not to talk about Becky or the break up, which means, of course, that they all keep talking about things that lead back to love or relationships until Paul finally introduces the elephant in the room!

If I have to fault this book it is only that sometimes, just sometimes, some of the characters sounded like Mma Ramotswe when they really had no business doing so! Mma Ramotswe is a character from AMS’Ladies Detective Agency series, and if you’ve never read them then of course you won’t even notice it so you can merrily stick another half a star on the review and read away perfectly happily. But I did notice it. There would sometimes be thoughts expressed, or the rumination of ideas, and I had Mma Ramotswe’s face in my mind as I read them. This is never usually an issues with AMS’ books, and it surprised me since he is such a prolific writer and yet so good at creating very individual, unique characters. It is a small thing, but still, a little unsettling for a rabid fan like myself!

Otherwise this is another delight to sink into an armchair with. I did enjoy the silliness, but I also found much of the story quite moving and thoughtful. Italy is described beautifully, Paul is a likeable character, and I found that I felt quite as sad as he did when he left the small Italian town to return to Scotland, feeling that I might like to know a little bit more of what would happen to everyone and what they would do next.

Further reading suggestion: To hear Mma Ramotswe in her own words, pick up a copy of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency or for something else in the large machinery genre take a look at A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.

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Buy My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith at


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