About Laura Thayer

Writing, photography & tales from daily life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, through the eyes of an American writer and art historian. Currently co-writing a novel with my mother, Sandra Thayer, set on the Amalfi Coast.

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I invite you to explore the pages of Ciao Amalfi to enjoy the beauty, history and traditions of the Amalfi Coast. Can't get enough of the Amalfi Coast? Me either! You can find Ciao Amalfi on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, too. Please email me directly for writing requests or just to say "Ciao!" While I love hearing from readers, please keep in mind that I may not be able to respond to all requests for information or travel planning help for the Amalfi Coast. Explore the archives of Ciao Amalfi for more travel tips and inspiration!
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Book Reviews

As a very young girl, my mother has told me how  she would often find me in my bedroom sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by stacks of books taller than me. I would look through each one, carefully turning the pages, probably dreaming of the stories that I was unable to read yet. As I grew older, and the world of reading opened to me, I would arrange my beloved teddy bears and stuffed animals in a semicircle around me and my stack of books and read aloud to them. In a wonderful moment of childish simplicity, I knew the poor creatures couldn’t read, and wanted to share with them the beauty of the stories I was discovering.

I don’t remember a point in my life that I haven’t been an avid reader. The long, hot summers in Florida were rescued by stacks of books. My teenage years took on a distinctly Russian angst, as I worked my way through all the great works of Russian literature by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Gogol. My four years at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland were spent lost in the world of classics, writing essays on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, and savoring those years of being surrounded by books, books and more books.

It was only after I finished graduate school that I had the time to discover my newest passion – contemporary women’s fiction. A voracious reader all her life, my mother became my teacher as I dove into this genre by sharing with me books by her favorite authors. My shelves were quickly filled with books by Maeve Binchy, Elizabeth Adler, Luanne Rice, Santa Montefiore and so many more. When my mother and I decided to collaborate on writing our own book, all of this reading quickly became “research.” Now I read with the eyes of a writer, each book offering a chance for me to understand what I like and don’t like about fiction, character development and learn how to find my own voice as a fiction writer.

I invite you to join me on this adventure as I share some of the writers and stories that inspire me along the way. Please visit my Book Reviews section for all the reviews, or simply click on the photos below to read more.

Happy reading!

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I’ve just finished reading a delicious book, with a story so good that it lingers in my thoughts and I don’t want to let it go. I picked up The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore on a whim in the Omaha airport last March, when my carry on was already loaded down with too many books. I had heard rave reviews of her writing style from my mother, and I reasoned there was always room to squeeze just one more book into my bag.

On another whim last weekend, I tossed the book into my beach bag before heading out to Positano. I’m so glad I did! Using the book to shield out the too hot sun, I was easily lost in the story from the captivating prologue that sets the scene for this romantic tale in the English countryside.

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Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story

A few years back now, my mother read Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother- Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. I don’t recall now just how it happened–chance, a recommendation, a gift–but I do know it was a treasure. As she read the story and shared about it with me, it became an important part of our own mother-daughter story. I’ll always think of my mom when I enjoy the strange sweetness of a pomegranate.

That year she gave me the book, and I’ve had it sitting in a treasured spot on my bookshelf waiting for just the right time to read it. How would I know just the right time? I couldn’t have told you if you asked, but I knew I would feel it. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that it would be August 2011, but it did turn out to be just the right time.

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Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore

The beautiful Amalfi Coast, travel stories, history, traditional Campania recipes and, of course, gelato – I think I fell in love with Chantal Kelly’s book Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore before I finished reading the back cover. It was a joy to dive into the story and join Chantal Kelly as she takes readers along with her on a seven day tour in Campania, with stops in some of the region’s most iconic spots like Capri, Sorrento and the villages of the Amalfi Coast. Along the way Kelly shares a nice balance of historical details and personal anecdotes from her previous travels in Campania.

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Among the Cloud Dwellers by Giuliana Sica

Every life deserves a little magic. If you feel like yours is missing that little spark, then boy oh boy do I have the book for you! One of my favorite summer reads so far has been Among the Cloud Dwellers by Giuliana Sica (published by Gemelli Press). This book is a beautiful blend of romance, travel, wine and good food – sprinkled with a little bit of magic.

Porzia Amard has inherited something she never expected from her French grandmother, a family gift of unusual spiritual insight and powers. Returning from her grandmother’s funeral in France to her adopted home in Pensacola, Florida, Porzia is not sure what to do with her unexpected legacy. With the help of her spiritual mentor, Porzia takes the risk to gamble with destiny and follow where fate will lead her, even at the risk of breaking her own heart.

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