283 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919866-65-4






Reviewed by Carolyn Bett

Carolyn Bett was President, CEBET Bibliographies.


Joyce Meyer’s award-winning book, Ricordi, reads like a picaresque novel. Incidents of the author’s life, first in Rome, and subsequently as a real estate agent selling farm houses and castles in Tuscany, tumble out in such detail that the ethos of Italy envelops the reader.

From the time of the romantic poets, Anglo-Saxons have rhapsodized over Italy. While Meyer’s overall feeling for Italy is passionate attachment, she also records those aspects of Italian culture which North Americans, particularly, find most difficult to understand or deal with: touching, shouting, bureaucracy, and blatant obsession with sex. Careful attention to every detail of characters, places, and impressions brings this book alive; however, general types are recognizable so that readers with any experience of Italy will be caught up in their own reminiscences. Details of countryside, architecture, sounds, aromas, meals, and people flow like a mountain stream.

Despite the loose structure of the book, each chapter is a satisfying unit and the book is clearly concluded with goodbyes to all the major figures.

The drawings by Toni Lucchesi capture the abandon, the freedom of spirit, which gave the author the feeling that she was always on holiday in Italy.

Meyer holds the North American reader with intimate revelations of the guilt, ennui, and anxiety she experiences in relation to her deadening government job, her insecure real estate job, and the free-wheeling Italian lifestyle. “What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed” (Pope); Ricordi is a masterpiece.


Meyer, Joyce, “Ricordi,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38087.