Review: ‘The Italian Teacher’
Is it possible to really enjoy a book even though the main character is pretty much all-around unattractive? In looks, demeanor, attitude, thought? I think it must be, because I really enjoyed The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman, even though Pinch, our “hero,” is pretty pathetic.
The son of Bear Bavinsky, a famous and philandering painter, Pinch lives his life struggling to earn his father’s approval. He questions every move, every decision, and every conversation – hoping that it is the “right” one. He ends up teaching Italian at a small, unremarkable college in London, having long ago cast aside his desire to paint. When Pinch finds himself suddenly in Bear’s confidence and good graces, he makes some interesting and life-changing decisions that propel the second half of the story.
Bear is definitely the most dynamic character in the novel – loud, interesting, creatively unique. He’s almost too much of a character, probably best seen through the eyes of his admittedly less interesting son. A lot of the story has to do with Bear’s artistic persona, the quirks to his genius and also his obsession with self-preservation and perfection. I was completely interested the whole way through but found Pinch pretty pathetic.
The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman (Viking | 9780735222694 | February 20, 2018)