The #TFBookClub reads ‘The Italian Teacher’ by Tom Rachman set in LONDON, NEW YORK CITY, ROME & the SOUTH OF FRANCE

10th March 2019

Thank you for joining us as we read The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman, set in LONDON, NEW YORK, ROME & the SOUTH OF FRANCE (March/April 2019).

The Italian Teacher

We hope you enjoy reading this wickedly funny and deeply touching exploration of the art world.

We will be chatting about the book throughout March and April 2019, so if you are reading it with us, please come and join the dialogue!

The #TFBookClub is your book club – we are here to help you discover new titles that will transport you to interesting locations via top literature for some exceptional #literarywanderlust.

As you read, please come and chat and share your thoughts in several ways:

  • Here on our dedicated blogpost, leave your thoughts in the Comments section below
  • On FACEBOOK
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  • On PINTEREST following this link 
  • And once you’ve turned the final page, we’d love it if you could write your own review, which you can do on tripfiction.com using the Add A Review tab. Help us to build the #TFBookClub and the TripFiction website!

REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS BOOK TOGETHER!

Andrew and Tina for the TripFiction Team

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Replies

  1. User: Miriam Smith

    Posted on: 10/03/2019 at 5:04 pm

    Hello

    Comment

  2. User: Denise Price

    Posted on: 14/03/2019 at 10:18 am

    Thank you for my copy of The Italian Teacher, which I’ve just started to read and am enjoying so far.

    Comment

  3. User: Janine Phillips

    Posted on: 16/03/2019 at 10:55 am

    I was looking forward to reading this book, but for me, sadly this was just not gripping. I nearly gave up halfway but persevered till the end, however I just didn’t connect with the characters or the story line.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:34 pm

      Glad you persevered and thanks for taking the time to comment. Hopefully you’ll be able to engage better with our next #TFBookClub choice!

      Comment

  4. User: Andrea Hedgcock

    Posted on: 16/03/2019 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for my copy of The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman. Not an author I’d read before. Loved the cover, and wish I could say the same of the book. I couldn’t get into the beginning, the names Bear and Pinch were off-putting for some reason. I have to confess I flicked through and picked it up halfway in when it seemed to flow better. Perhaps it’s one of those books you really need to be in a certain mood to read. Having said all that I’ll certainly try another of Tom Rachman’s novels.

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:36 pm

      Hmmm….your thoughts on The Italian Teacher are certainly echoed by others. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and hopefully you’ll enjoy our next choice more!

      Comment

  5. User: Harriet Steel

    Posted on: 18/03/2019 at 5:28 pm

    Many thanks for my copy. The cover is lovely and although I can’t say I’m gripped yet, the writing is very good and I think I’ll persevere. (I’m about a third of the way through.) Pinch is quite an interesting character. To me, Bear, his selfish artist father, and Natalie, his flaky potter mother, are a bit stereotypical, but I imagine they will fade from the story.

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Harriet. Did you persevere? Hope you enjoyed The Italian Teacher in the end….

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  6. User: Sara Hill

    Posted on: 18/03/2019 at 9:02 pm

    It took me a while to get into this book but once it got going I enjoyed it. Bear was an egotistic and self centred man, How on earth did he get so many wives and lovers? I suppose he had charisma! I felt sorry for the way Bear treated and belittled Pinch and for the failure of Pinch’s early relationships because of his lack of confidence, I don’t want to give the story away but I certainly did enjoy the developments .

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:55 pm

      Never underestimate charisma! Glad you enjoyed The Italian Teacher, and thanks for dropping by to comment.

      Comment

  7. User: Tina

    Posted on: 18/03/2019 at 9:07 pm

    Many thanks for the complimentary copy. I had a hate/love reaction to the book: On the one hand I hated Bear and his domineering, self-centred ways to all those around him; on the other, I wanted to persevere to see if he would get his come-uppance, ideally at the hands of Pinch! In the end, the style and plot were sufficiently intriguing to sustain my interest to the end.

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:54 pm

      Glad you persevered to the end of The Italian Teacher, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Comment

  8. User: Helen Clayton

    Posted on: 19/03/2019 at 7:12 am

    Ive just finished this original and moving book. After weeks of reading a completely different genre I approached this one with a little trepidation-within a few chapters it totally absorbed me. At times I wanted to shout and badger Pinch to step away from his slavish devotion to the selfish Bear, to see through Bears total disregard for the feelings of others. The journey through life for Pinch, the sadness and stifling mediocre was largely of his own making-his timidity infuriated me. But oh-what a triumphant later life Pinch led-albeit a secretive one! It made me laugh and cry and I even through Rachman’s writing began to see the pathetic nature of an aged Bear. I’m surprised I enjoyed this one so much-and I’m already missing the memorable character of Marsden who was was wonderfully drawn.

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment on The Italian Teacher. Glad you enjoyed the book, particularly the way the characters are drawn, and especially as some other #TFBookClub readers didn’t enjoy this one quite so much. But if a book can make you laugh and cry, what more could you want!

      Comment

  9. User: Sarah Boyce

    Posted on: 20/03/2019 at 10:33 pm

    I am really enjoying this book. I am about three quarters of the way through and don’t want it to end, though I’m also dying to see what happens with the sold painting! I think this is the first time in a while I’ve enjoyed the writing itself rather than plot alone whilst reading, it’s so vibrant and the characters so well drawn and believable.

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:42 pm

      What a positive comment on The Italian Teacher, thanks so much for taking the time to share. Hope you enjoy the final quarter!

      Comment

  10. User: Claire Harris

    Posted on: 25/03/2019 at 12:19 am

    Thank you so much for my copy of ‘The Italian Teacher’.
    I picked it up with the great excitement accorded to a new novel by a writer as yet unknown to me ( and a Costa Novel Award shortlister, too!)
    Unfortunately, I failed to engage with the opening pages & put the novel down more than once, turning to other books instead.
    However, I persevered, and finally the novel started to grip me.
    Although I did not really find any of the characters very attractive, somehow the story of Pinch’s mediocre life began to engage me more & more.
    There were several ‘wow’ moments which made me gasp or cry out ‘no!’ (I won’t list them for fear of spoiling things for those who have yet to finish the book!) and when I reached the end I had far more admiration for Pinch than I did at the start of the book!

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    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment…and for not including any spoilers! Glad you got to the end of The Italian Teacher, and that you got something out of the book.

      Comment

  11. User: Denise Price

    Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for my copy of this great book. It took a while to grab me, but I’m glad I persevered.

    The thing I loved most about the book were the brilliantly drawn characters. I spent a good deal of the novel wanting to shake Pinch and punch Bear. I would like to read more by this author.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 4:38 pm

      Hoorah! Well done for persevering with The Italian Teacher and glad the book – and particularly the characters – worked for you in the end. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Comment

  12. User: Harriet Steel

    Posted on: 26/03/2019 at 8:42 pm

    It took a while, but I eventually got into this and very much enjoyed it. Pinch’s artist father, Bear, remained unlikeable and selfish, although there was a brief indication at one point that he did take some interest in his son, independently of the use he could make of him. Poor Pinch, on the other hand, increasingly engaged my sympathy. Life dealt him a series of bad hands, so I was glad he managed to assert himself in the end, even if it was only in secret. The end of the book was very moving.
    The passages about the making of art and how we assess its value were interesting. I would have liked more of that kind of thing. As far as the locations were concerned, I didn’t feel any of them were strongly evoked. A bit more local colour would have been welcome, but I think the author may have been more interested in the dynamics of the relationships.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 02/04/2019 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful feedback on ‘The Italian Teacher’, Harriet. This one seems to have divided opinion amongst TripFiction Book Club members, so we’re glad you ended up enjoying it. Fingers crossed you think our next choice is stronger on location, and enjoyable from the first page. TF’s Andrew

      Comment

  13. User: MAUREEN JULIAN

    Posted on: 02/04/2019 at 1:22 pm

    Sad to say that, though I really enjoyed reading the story of Bear and Pinch from the beginning, by the time I got two thirds of the way through, I lost interest. I tried reading something else in between and returned to it, but my interest had gone so I gave up.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 02/04/2019 at 1:25 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on ‘The Italian Teacher.’ Sorry to hear that this novel didn’t grab you though, but stay tuned to the TripFiction Book Club….we’re confident the characters and story of our next #TFBookClub choice will engage and enchant you!

      Comment

  14. User: Lesley

    Posted on: 07/04/2019 at 9:43 am

    Firstly, thank you for my copy of The Italian Teacher. At first a slow burner for me but gradually I became intrigued with how the relationship between the characters Bear and Pinch would develop. I was not disappointed. At times I loathed both characters, Bear’s narcissistic arrogance and Pinch’s weakness however, sympathy for Pinch did kick in and by the end I was cheering for him.
    I enjoyed the colourful descriptive writing and the quirky humour which emphasised how pretentious the art world can be. Mostly, I liked it’s theme of misplaced love.

    Comment

  15. User: Claire Broomsgrove

    Posted on: 13/04/2019 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you Trip Fiction for allowing me the chance to read The Italian Teacher, a fabulous cover which definitely drew me in. To begin with I must admit I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the story but I felt the Tom Rachmans characters grew with the book, which took you from the old streets of Rome, to London, America, and France. Bear was such an intriguing character it was fascinating relationship between him and Pinch, often not a happy one. I very much enjoyed following Pinch through his life it was definitely worth persevering with, as I felt I grew more into the book the further I got, a great ending.

    Comment

  16. User: Louise Page

    Posted on: 14/04/2019 at 4:31 pm

    Firstly, thank you very much for sending me a copy of ‘The Italian Teacher’. The title and cover of the book were extremely appealing from the start and I was eager to read this.

    Having now finished the book, my impression does not match my initial expectations. I think I was expecting a funny and intriguing book about Italy, a book where I could escape and be absorbed into foreign locations. This may be why I found it difficult to get into the book for some time. It didn’t help that I felt no empathy for the characters to begin with and had little interest in what happened to them. I only began to be interested in the story when Birdie came to Rome. The pathos and awkwardness was palpable and I began to understand where the author was leading us and see that there was another level to the story.

    I found the dynamics between Pinch, Bear and the other characters in the book extremely interesting. I thought Bear was loathsome – I hated how he rode roughshod over people’s feelings, manipulating everyone with his selfishness and self-importance. However, I was intrigued in the similarities between Pinch and Bear, who are essentially polar opposites….

    Both characters crave emotional (rather than financial) recognition.
    Both are afraid to show their true feelings and each has a string of disastrous relationships – they are unable to keep people close and are unable to let their mask slip.

    Ironically, both Pinch and Bear are parasites – they rely heavily on and even feed off other people’s energy in order to be able to function. In doing so, they hurt and leave a trail of sadness in their wake. They cannot survive alone and constantly seek reassurance.

    Both Bear and Pinch are extremely talented and intelligent, yet they are both insecure, cold, needy, have inflated ideas of their own ego and are unable to accept blame. Both come to a pretty tragic end.

    Both Bear and Pinch work towards one common goal throughout the book, although do so in different ways. The goal is Bear’s legacy. For Bear, he wishes to be remembered as a famous and serious artist. Pinch’s goal is more tangible – he wishes for Bear’s legacy to make amends and provide stability for the wider family going forward, the way he does this is so ironic, and it made a great conclusion to the story.

    As the book unfolds and concludes, we see that sadly, Pinch has chosen to sacrifice his entire existence to extol and exonerate a man that he idolises…but did Bear actually deserve or even appreciate this idolisation from Pinch and from others also?

    Did Bear make a positive or negative impression on the Art world, on other people, on his family, on the reader?

    The book also begs interesting questions about what makes art valuable.

    For me, the book was fascinating in terms of exploring the dysfunctional characters and disastrous relationships as a result. The Art focus and travel element played second fiddle.

    Since finishing the book, I have been thinking hard about what Tom Rachman’s objective was when beginning to write this book.

    My favourite bit of the book? Jing…the way she says ‘Chars’ and leaves the door ‘ajug’… that did make me chuckle.

    Thank you very much again for giving me the opportunity to discover this book.

    Comment

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