Cover image for The reluctant Tuscan
The reluctant Tuscan
Doran, Phil, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Gotham Books 2005.
Physical Description:
viii, 306 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DG734.23 .D67 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In the witty tone that made Phil Doran a success as a writer in Hollywood, "The Reluctant Tuscan will captivate a wide audience, from those who simply love a captivating travel narrative to anyone who loves the quirky humor of Bill Bryson, Dave Barry, and Jerry Seinfeld. After years of working on a string of successful sitcoms, Doran found that just as he and his peers had replaced the older guys when he was coming up, it was now happening to him. And it was freaking him out. He came home every night burned-out, angry, and exhausted. But even if he hadn't had enough, his wife, Nancy, had. After twenty-five years of losing her husband to Hollywood, Doran's wife decided it was finally time for a change--so on one of her many solo trips to Italy she surprised her husband by purchasing a broken-down three-hundred-year-old farmhouse for them to restore. "The Reluctant Tuscan is the author's transition from a successful but overworked writer-producer in Hollywood to someone rediscovering himself and his wife while in Italy, finding happiness in the last place he expected to. Doran finds himself navigating through the maddening labyrinth of Italian bureaucracy just to get a road paved to their house; dealing with the foibles of their neighbors and the tangled drama of the family who sold them the home; coming to accept that the Italians live with a million laws and no rules--all while he becomes slowly seduced by the inexhaustible beauty and tactile pleasures of Tuscany.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In funny, breezy, offhand prose, yet one more American discovers the pleasures and pains of restoring a superannuated, bucolic Tuscan dwelling. A writer-producer of television series, Doran moves from Los Angeles to Tuscany at the behest of his interior-decorator wife and begins to live out his own Italian-inflected version of Green Acres. Having been suborned into purchase of Tuscan real estate that no right-thinking Italian would dream of buying, Doran gradually succumbs to the Tuscan lifestyle of constant wondrous meals punctuated with siestas. The taste of a grape and a plate of local pasta weave increasingly tight bonds about him. Despite civic opposition to his wife's road-building efforts and the locals' endearingly duplicitous dealings with them, Doran finds himself drawn to all the sensuous pleasures Tuscany offers. Doran has an eye for the telling personal detail, and he knows how to set up a scene for maximum comic impact. This well-crafted book could easily pass for a television series treatment. All that is missing is a laugh track. --Mark Knoblauch Copyright 2005 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers of Doran's amusing memoir about relocating from Los Angeles to the tiny Tuscan town of Cambione must first suspend their disbelief that a person in his right mind would actively resist such an opportunity. But resist Doran does-and when his sculptor wife buys a ramshackle, 300-year-old house there on a whim, she must drag him kicking and screaming out of his high-stress, low-reward life as a Hollywood writer and producer (among his hits: Who's the Boss? and The Wonder Years). What follows is rather predictable: the house turns out to be in even worse shape than anyone imagined, and the construction crew has no "discernable pattern" when it comes to showing up for work. Lines like "Things happen in Italy that don't happen anywhere else on earth. A magical friendliness is spread all over the place like pixie dust" don't do much to distinguish Doran's story from other books of its ilk, but the author's grudging optimism and dead-on ear for dialogue certainly do. Doran's brutally funny accounts of tangles with everyone (including the mayor, the police, an inefficient landlord and Doran's long-suffering wife) are enough to keep readers hooked until the last page. It may not be a surprise that he lives happily ever after, but how he gets there is certainly worth the ride. Agent, Betsy Amster. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

After spending 25 years writing and producing popular television shows like Who's the Boss? and The Wonder Years, Doran was approached by his wife, who thought he needed a change. Her proposal: restore a house in Italy and leave the stress (and success) of Los Angeles behind. Doran agrees, but only grudgingly; thus this story is born. It is as much about Doran's struggle with a television industry that considers him a "relic" and his fight to reconnect with his wife as it is about restoring a 300-year-old farmhouse in a small Italian village chock-full of colorful characters and plenty of bureaucracy. Doran handles all of it with curmudgeonly wit that is the book's greatest strength. With the recent popularity of Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun and the companion movie, Doran's title may prove appealing to patrons looking for a more sardonic take on life, love, marriage, retirement, and Tuscany. Recommended for public libraries.-Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.