Unbecoming Australians : Crisis and Community in the Australian Villa/ge Book

IN 2000 Delia Falconer wrote an article in The Australian's Review of Books giving an overview of the vogue in travel writing for what she dubbed the 'villa book':

Once upon a time ... there is a man; he is English, middle-aged, recently retired from a career in advertising and likes to eat in restaurants. Or there is a woman, American, a professor ofcreative writing, who has travelled to this Latin country many times before and always longed to live here. And there is a villa on a hill - two storeys, a primitive bathroom, old stalls that once housed animals in the basement. The olive trees are overgrown, the shutters are unhinged and fading. It is love at first sight. The man or woman buys it. As you do.

... There are baroque legal systems and shifty builders to be dealt with, unwanted guests from home who view the new house as a hotel service. The local dialect or accent is difficult to master, wasps attack, the septic system floods. And the expenses - they're awful. But the local cuisine is as mouth-watering as it is simple, the markets sell fresh peaches and strawberries that are ripe to eat that day. There are monthly antique markets in the next village, sage and hazelnuts for picking in the laneways. The locals are charming, from the foxy bullshit artist who stops to offer dubious advice about vermin to the local fix-it genius who knows how to build a bridge or dig a well. ...

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Published 1 October 2007 in Volume 23 No. 2. Subjects: Australian identity, Australians overseas, Autobiographical writing, Quest motif, Search for self identity, Travel fiction & writing.

Cite as: Genoni, Paul. ‘Unbecoming Australians : Crisis and Community in the Australian Villa/ge Book.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 2, 2007. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.ebb173135d.