REVIEWS OF Head Over Heel


July 27, 2009





April 12, 2008


Everyone who wants to travel wants to visit Italy, and everyone who visits Italy wants to live there. But visiting a place and living there are different things. Sydneysider Chris Harrison gives it a go, and finds himself living in Italy via England and a boys' weekend in Dublin, where he meets and falls for the sultry Italian Daniela. "She was as beautiful as her language and I couldn't get enough of either," he writes. First he is seduced by Daniela and then by the relaxed lifestyle and rustic charm of her seaside village, Andrano, with its eccentric characters, religious festivals and summer heat.


But, before long, winter and working for a living interrupt and Harrison discovers that a summer romance and real life are not the same thing. He develops a complicated love/hate relationship with Italy, a country steeped in tradition and good food as well as pointless, infuriating bureaucracy and incomprehensible customs. The move to an expensive city brings a different attitude to Italy and the realisation that living in Milan - a dirty urban jungle, as he describes it - sucks.


Harrison manages to get right under Italy's skin without stereotyping the people he meets and situations he finds himself in, filling the book with anecdotes depicting both the fun and frustration of living in a country where who you know gets you further than what you know, and where common sense often has no place in everyday encounters. "Only by ignoring Italy's imperfections have Italians perfected their lives," he notes.


Many have written books about their experiences living in foreign climes but few have done it as entertainingly, beautifully and - surprisingly - romantically as Harrison does here. There is no doubt that he loves his woman but, over time, his experiences and relationships in Italy move and change him so that by the end he has also fallen in love with her country. And I with him.


Review by Kate Duthie





March 15, 2008


Ahh, Italy. We've all dreamed of running off to that romantic country to grow grapes in Tuscany, soak up the Mediterranean sunshine and eat that wonderful food.


But is the reality of living in Italy as good as a holiday? Apparently not. Australian journalist Chris Harrison decided to run off to Italy in pursuit of true love, which is chronicled in his hilarious book HEAD OVER HEEL - the 'heel' referring to the heel of Italy's boot, where his love hails from.


While his love affair with the gorgeous Daniela goes from strength to strength, his frustration with Italy grows with every chapter. Outdated laws, superstitious locals and endless red-tape and bureaucracy make for some funny stories, although how Harrison managed to retain his sense of humour I have no idea.


As well as dealing with the eccentricities of Italian life, he also has to win over Daniela's family and the people in her small village in southern Italy. To them, anyone from north of Rome is a foreigner, so an Aussie from Bondi might as well be from Mars.


This is a funny and touching tale about the cultural divide with a sweet and passionate love story at its heart.


For all those who have ever had a brief holiday in Italy and said, "You know, I could really live here," read this and know that it may not be that easy.


And for those who know Italy intimately and love her all the same, enjoy HEAD OVER HEEL and its taste of la dolce vita.

Review by Brooke Jacobson





September 1, 2008


An intriguing book, very well written, well structured, entertaining and sometimes even challenging. The exploration of the relationship between two different worlds and cultures, Italy and Australia, is conducted in a manner which leaves the reader with an awareness of two worlds coming together in the challenges of everyday life without major dramas, but as natural as everyday life. The analysis is very well disguised by Harrison's narrative and the natural flow of the story.
This book is a mixture of autobiographical narrative and travel writing, a simple romantic tale of the pursuit of love and the experiences of an Australian living abroad, which provides a delightful and often humorous account of the author's evolving relationship with Italy as he comes to grips with everyday reality there. Harrison gives the reader some very insightful glimpses into the cultural divide between the Anglo Saxon world and the attitudes and ways of thinking that make the Italian reality distinctive and often incomprehensible to the outsider. He achieves this by ably incorporating anecdotes (without resorting to stereotyping) that provide both humour and vivid images of Italians and Italian life.


Judges: Robert Pascoe, Piero Genovesi and Adriana Nelli





March 20, 2008

Tender tale of an Australian who falls in love with an Italian girl and goes to live with her in the village of Andrano on the 'heel' of Italy. There, author Chris Harrison slowly and often hilariously learns the language and customs as he settles into a very different way of life. The local policeman rearranges crimes to fit the forms and the doctor prescribes his homemade 'limoncello, pure alcohol with a hint of lemons from his garden.' Part romance, part travel memoir, the book paints a vivid picture of the fishing village and, after a brief stay in Milan, he returns there to marry. However, he writes that he will always be Australian - he thinks.





February 2008


To anybody who loves Italy (and who doesn't?) Chris Harrison's Head Over Heel will be a delight.

This is a love story on several levels as well as a voyage of discovery, a life-changing experience.

Pirandello and Fellini are both involved as Harrison depicts the absurdities, eccentricities and folk-rituals of Southern Italy - its sleepy villages, endless bell ringing, unpredictable policemen and formidable mothers-in-law.

Dramatic, sensual and affectionately amusing, Head Over Heel is as good as a holiday.





February, 2008


If anyone needed confirmation that love strikes like lightning, they only need to read Sydney-born Chris Harrison's memoir. Yes, it's the year for men writing memoirs about looking for love, but this time, Chris did end up marrying Daniela. Oops, did we just give the ending away?





February 2008


This account by Australian-born journalist and English teacher Chris Harrison of his love-at-first-sight, complicated relationship with southern Italian beauty Daniela features one nicely crafted observation after another. However, the author remains a mystery.


There are the usual cultural dilemmas to be faced when Harrison relocates from London to Puglia (the heel of Italy, hence the book's title). He has to adjust to small-town life, navigate the crazy traffic, negotiate with inefficient public servants, juggle the expectations of his adopted family and master the language.


Harrison and at times Daniela, with 'eyes the colour of Guinness', seem superficial in comparison to the array of characters that colour his narrative. We learn very little of his life up to the moment he meets Daniela and, as a result, it's sometimes difficult to be moved by his journey. He succeeds, though, in capturing the contrasts of this beguiling country.



Review by Rosemarie Milsom