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Thursday, 18 February 2016

SPOTLIGHT & #GIVEAWAY - Absolute Truth, For Beginners by Katarina West

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LGBT, Coming of Age


Elisa Mancini is a Nobody. Painfully insecure, more at ease with books than with people, at twenty-three she’s a university dropout living at her aunt’s, drifting from one day to another, and waiting for something big to happen. 

Judith Shapiro is a Somebody. Arrogant and eccentric, she’s a superstar of mathematics, the subject of scientific articles, and the undisputed ruler of the world around her. 

In a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, Elisa falls madly in love with Judith Shapiro. For sixty-eight days she is the mistress of an internationally acclaimed mathematician. 

But loving Judith Shapiro is like running a marathon in a war zone. As days pass, Elisa’s wild infatuation takes on a suicidal bent, and the world around her starts to go to pieces. Just as everything is about to blow up, the moment of truth comes. 

Absolute Truth, For Beginners is a story about truth, time and love. Or about identity, positive nursing, degrees of happiness, Baroque art, scientific theories, homosexual lovemaking, arrogant television producers, and becoming who you really are.

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 My Favourite Places to Read

Ten years ago my husband and I moved into an old and cold farmhouse in the heart of Chianti, surrounded by nothing else but vineyards and olive groves, as far as the eye can see.

I was thrilled with this dramatic change of lifestyle, not the least because I was sure that my new life in the country would entail some outrageously romantic reading experiences.

In my mind’s eyes I saw myself seated under a fig tree. Or maybe an olive tree. With a big straw hat and a heavy, page-turner of a book; those that you wish would never end.  The world-famous Tuscan sun was filtering through the branches, dancing on the pages, and just the softest summer breeze was sighing in the foliage. And raising my head I had the most breath-taking vista of softly rolling hills open up before me.

Or then it was winter. I was snuggled under a mountain of blankets, close to the fireplace. Together with a cup of something hot and steamy. And my Kindle. And yeah, maybe even some chocolate. Calorie-free, of course. (In my dreams they have discovered that, too.)

So how have they been, reading-wise, my ten years in rural Tuscany? How many unforgettable and outrageously romantic reading experiences have I had?

Er… well. Actually, none.

What I have done is publish two novels, raise a son, cook and clean. I’ve cared for a hairy mop of a shepherd dog, a regiment of carefree country cats, and a German ghost (a gentle soul living in our ancient well). I’ve mowed and sandpapered and painted and repaired and carried firewood. And by doing all that, I haven’t had much time for sublime reading experiences.

That’s why my favourite reading places are those where I can actually read. I read while seated at my desk and being queued on the telephone. (One of the wonders of the Italian automated telephone services: it takes ages before they’ll reply to you!) Or I read in the kitchen, standing, while stirring the soup. And obviously I read in bed, just before falling asleep. A paragraph or two is an evening must, no matter how late it might be. And I’m ashamed to admit that I read at the dinner table, despite my conscience telling me that it’s Bad Parenting.
But I still haven’t forgotten my reading dream. You know, the one about the straw hat and the fig tree and that Tuscan sun filtering through the branches.

And the page-turner of a book that never ends.  

Katarina West is the author of Witchcraft Couture, her debut novel, and Absolute Truth, For Beginners. She was born in Helsinki, Finland, into a bilingual family that in addition to humans consisted of dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, canaries, rabbits and – thanks to her biology teacher mother – stuffed owls and squirrels.

She spent time travelling in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and went on to study at Queen Mary and Westfield College in London and the European University Institute in Florence, where she completed a PhD in political science and published a book based on it, Agents of Altruism. During those student years she started work as a journalist, and continued writing for various Finnish magazines and newspapers for over ten years, writing on various topics from current events and humanitarian issues to celebrity interviews and short stories. She also briefly worked as a university lecturer on humanitarian issues in Northern Italy.

Katarina lives in an old farmhouse in Chianti with her husband and son and when not writing, she is fully immersed in Tuscan country life, from jam-making and olive-picking to tractor maintenance.

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