The other reason my amazon rating is doing so well this week is that on Sunday Ciao Bella was listed in the top five memoirs of the year in the Sunday Times. I had no idea this was going to happen and in fact was just complaining to my husband that I wasn’t included in any such lists when he said “But you’re here, look, Ciao Bella, number three, the reviewer calls it a delight”. “Yeah, right,” was my response. He has to show it to me before I believed him. And there she was, in glorious technicolour.
On the same page was Gore Vidal’s memoir (although he didn’t make it to the top 5). I met Gore Vidal that first summer in Italy I write about in Ciao Bella. He was an imposing and elegant figure, surrounded by books and servants. He showed little interest in me, preferring my handsome uncle, but he did take me into his study and hand me a copy of Myra Breckenridge. “This little lady caused quite a stir,” he told me.
Of course I hero-worshipped him. I never forgot his study overlooking the bay of Ravello with its vast desk and leather-bound books. To me, an aspiring writer aged 14, it seemed like heaven on earth. To be on the same page as him in a book selection is a huge honour. Although he might not feel the same!