The Artisan’s Star – A Book Review

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I just finished reading The Artisan’s Star by Gabriella Contestabile for Italy Book Tours.  In my opinion, if I had to use one word to sum up this book, it would be “passion.”  Everything that happens in the story involves some form of it – from the passionate love between a man and a woman, to the passion an artist has for his craft.  The story revolves around Elio at it’s center, and how he became passionate about perfume making.  We learn about the loves of his life: his beautiful Greek mother who taught him about scents, the two older women with whom he learned the passion of love, his wife who shares his life, and his little “stellina” (his daughter!) who is the star of his life. The story takes place mostly in Florence where the author goes into great detail to make you feel like you are walking with the characters through the streets of this ancient city.  We are introduced to other artisans who are passionate about their crafts and learn how, even in these modern times, they create their beautiful crafts like they were created hundreds of years ago.  We are also transported to Grasse, the perfume capital of France, where we learn a lot about the art of perfumery.  I have to say that this was all new to me and I never realized all the hard work and study that goes into making a perfume.

Ms. Contestabile’s book was very detailed and very descriptive, but at times, almost too much.  I found my interest waning at times and I had to force myself to continue reading.  She switched back and forth in the timeline, too, which was a bit distracting.  The basic premise of the book was good, with the central theme of passion for one’s craft, excellent.  She was successful in relaying that passion as it was evident in Elio’s and the other character’s lives.

Meet the Author:

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Gabriella Contestabile is an author, educator, and owner of SU MISURA JOURNEYS, a boutique travel company connecting people to the artisans of Florence. She emigrated, with her parents, from Italy to New York City in 1959. In her pre-writer life, she worked as a foreign language teacher, management development specialist, and fragrance/cosmetics executive. Gabriella is a strong advocate of the arts, of multiculturalism, and of social justice—a passion inspired by reading Dickens and Dante at a very young age. She has been an active volunteer with Dress for Success for over eight years and is a member of the Slow Food NYC Food and Farm Policy Task Force. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, her daughter, her mom, and a furry Shih–Tzu named Oreo. ‘ The Artisan’s Star’ is her first novel. She is currently working on a collection of short stories, also set in Italy, and a screenplay.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for reading “The Artisan’s Star’ and for the comprehensive and candid review. I so enjoy the passion and energy in your blog. Since emigrating from Italy too many years ago I have always longed to return. Writing this book was a way to place myself there and bring all those passions to the surface. So very Italian, I suppose. BTW, I loved your crostata story and recipe, and the story about your family and Lago Maggiore. I ended up there once in a snowstorm. It was magical.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and for your kind comments. Italy is truly magical and I always feel like I’m home when I am there (even though I’ve actually never really lived there). Probably because it’s in my blood! I hope you get to return soon to bring you back to that special place in your heart.

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