Review of La Bella Lingua is by Susan Spalt
Some years ago I took a class in the history of the Italian language. It was somewhat difficult, as it was taught in Italian, but I learned so much about a language that I love, that I became completely absorbed in studying and reading.
Imagine my surprise when I came across a book that has much of the same information, and more, written in English!
The book, La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales, is the story of one woman’s love affair with Italian. This book includes chapters on the history of Italian, including entertaining descriptions of Dante, Machiavelli and other famous Italian writers. There are also chapters which address the uniquely Italian approach to loving, eating, living, and even getting angry.
If you have ever wondered why In boca al lupo (In the mouth of the wolf) means good luck in Italian and buona fortuna (good luck) is considered unlucky—this is the book for you. It is highly entertaining and readable—and will be enjoyed whether you speak fluent Italian or just a few words.
Incidentally—the correct response to in boca al lupo is crepi il lupo, or let the wolf die!
La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales was given 5 stars from Amazon readers!
From Publishers Weekly
In this charming love letter to the language and culture of Italy, journalist Hales recounts her inebriation with Italian’s sounds and her lovesickness over its phrases.
Enamored of this lovely and lovable language, Hales immerses herself in Italian culture on numerous trips to Italy in her attempt to live Italian.
She comes to think of Italian as a lovable rascal, a clever, twinkle-eyed scamp that you can’t resist even when it plays you for a fool. Hales regales us with the mysteries of the language, such as when a color becomes more than hue.
She tells us that yellow, for example, refers to a mystery because thrillers traditionally had yellow covers. In her rapture over the language, she also swoons over Italian literature (from Dante to Manzoni), opera (Verdi and Puccini) and cinema (Marcello Mastroianni and Fellini) as she rehearses the many ways in which the language has seductively slipped into Western culture and consciousness.