Thursday, June 03, 2010

What is Justine van der Leun reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Justine van der Leun, author of Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love.

Her entry begins:
I usually read women writers—my favorites include MFK Fisher, Lorrie Moore, Shirley Hazzard, and Edwidge Danticat. But I looked over at my bedside table, and I saw that at the moment I’m only reading books by men. It must be a phase!

Dalva by Jim Harrison

I feel about Jim Harrison the way preteen girls feel about Justin Bieber. In other words: I’m obsessed. I think if I met him, I’d either be struck mute or begin to sob. I’ve read nearly everything of Harrison’s, but Dalva proved to me that he knows women better than any male writer alive today. The title character, Dalva Northridge, is a brilliant, authentic, rebellious woman searching for the son she gave up for adoption when she was only 15. The novel follows several love stories in the past and the present, and it’s set against the stunning Nebraska frontier. Did I mention...[read on]
Among the early praise for Marcus of Umbria:
“A sweet, disarming story finds a young New York editor venturing to Italy to pursue romance with a sexy gardener and ending up falling for a neglected dog instead. In her straightforward, unembellished prose…the author manages to capture the lovely, vanishing Old World ways of these tightly knit people, while also interweaving a heart-melting tale.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Van der Leun’s memoir is a funny and surprisingly tender story about culture shock, and the unwavering love of a dog.”

“Justine van der Leun is blessed with the elusive gift of storytelling. In prose both lyrical and spare, she captures the beauty of a foreign land, the comedy of cultural clashes, the mystery of love lost and found, and, without ever dipping into sugary sentimentality, the unique bond between human and dog. The effect is utterly charming. I was engaged from start to finish.”
--John Grogan, author of Marley & Me and The Longest Trip Home

Marcus of Umbria combines the personal journey of Eat, Pray, Love with the madcap adventures of Bridget Jones’s Diary, all on a farm with a dog. Justine van der Leun’s tales about love, adjusting to life in a faraway land, and losing her heart to the abandoned English pointer she rescues are warm, comic, and beautifully descriptive. I devoured this compassionate and sharply funny book in one sitting.”
--Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
Learn more about the book and author at Justine van der Leun's website.

Writers Read: Justine van der Leun.

--Marshal Zeringue