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Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick - Book Blitz + Giveaway

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Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria
Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all... love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. 

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

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The place Mirella wanted to show me was in need of some
repair, she said, but it had something rather special about it.
Driving along the winding roads which seemed to stretch
forever, she chatted about some of the people who lived in the
village, breaking into Italian when her patience ran out with her
English. It was a struggle to follow what she was saying in either
language, with the views of the countryside vying for my
attention and often winning the battle. Blue-hazed hills rolled
in every direction, with a few small stone villages clutching onto
the sides at impossible angles.
Mirella drove around the last bend on a small road that
seemed to lead nowhere, and revved her Fiat Uno up a steep
sloping drive. I gasped. Suddenly, I saw exactly what she meant
by special. The house – or what was left of it – towered
imposingly from its position on a knoll overlooking an endless
vista of hills and valleys. It was built of a warm yellow coloured
stone that was gradually being bathed in pink in the glow of the
late afternoon sun. If you craned your neck you could just make
out the rooftops of the miniscule village of San Massano a short
distance away. This was the oldest inhabited settlement in
Umbria. Mirella led the way up the rest of the pot-holed drive.
About half-way up, the Fiat had made it clear it would go no
“The village’s history goes back at least to the 10th century,
and probably a great deal further,” said Mirella, who had long
switched back into Italian. “As for the house, no one knows
really. For generations, it belonged to the same family. But then
there was some kind of a quarrel, and the house was divided into
two parts.” She paused to disentangle herself from the brambles
which had wound themselves around one of her legs, making a
rip in her dark blue tights.
“Porco dio!”
The house was indeed in need of repair, with gaping holes
in the terracotta-tiled roof and the outside stone walls badly
crumbling. In some places they had completely collapsed.
Inside, some sections of the uneven floors were missing, with
dizzying drops down to the space below.
“Careful where you put your feet,” said Mirella. She tugged
at my arm to stop me from wandering into a cavernous room
with hardly any floor at all. A large rat darted out between us.
It was hard to say how many rooms there were, or how
many there might one day be. The building was huge and
rambling, but there were no bedrooms that could be identified
as such and certainly no bathroom. There was nothing that
looked remotely like a kitchen and there appeared to be no
electricity. The only source of water was from a conical-shaped
stone construction to one side of the main building. Leaning
over to look down into the well, I could just make out the shape
of a dead fox floating in the water, its body bloated but its brush
still intact. Incredibly, one part of the property was still inhabited,
by an old man who peered out of a small broken window as we
passed by.
Half an hour later we were seated in a village bar with a
spectacular view of a tiny, shimmering lake. I touched my glass
of prosecco to Mirella’s Crodino. “It’s the most beautiful place
I’ve ever seen. I’ll take it!”
Even Mirella looked a little taken aback.
“Don’t you want to talk it over, with your parents or
“No, it’s just what I want, really. I think it’s perfect.”
When the news got out, it would be difficult to say who was the
more surprised. My two brothers, who were the only close
relatives I now had, did little to hide their concern about what
they said was an almost certainly unwise decision.
“So what does your surveyor say about the place?” asked
Charles, the older of the two, when I excitedly told him over a
crackly phone line about the beautiful old house I had bought
in the Umbrian hills. I admitted that I had not consulted a
surveyor. It hadn’t crossed my mind.
“Well what about your lawyer?” pursued Charles sensibly. I
had to confess that I had not sought any legal advice at all.
“Well, never mind. We’re still in time to stop this going
through,” he said, in a tone that was meant to be reassuring. I
told him that it was way too late. I had already paid for the house,
writing out a cheque in Mirella’s office the previous day. It
wasn’t any great sum, though it was for me, representing a
sizeable chunk of the money that my parents had left me. The
price I paid would not have been enough for a deposit on a flat
back in Brighton.
As for the villagers, they could not begin to understand what a
young woman was doing on her own, so far from home.
“Don’t you have a mother or a father?” asked a small white-haired
man when Mirella introduced me to him the following
day. We had driven back to take another look at the property I
had just bought, so that I could take some photographs. The
man, who looked to be in his fifties, was wandering around the
village piazza, about five hundred yards from my house. He
wore a white buttoned overall, with a thick brown jumper
showing underneath.
“What about a husband? You don’t want to end up like me.”
Mirella had already given me a run-down on Tito the village
shopkeeper, and on several of the forty two people who lived in
San Massano.
“Forty three counting you,” she said.

About Clare Pedrick
Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.
You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.
Read her blog about life in Umbria here

Giveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally)
·         Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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