Do not confuse this book with books such as "Under the Tuscan Sun" or "A Year in Provence." This book, although set in the Italian countryside, is really a character study. The narrator is one of several survivors of a bombed train car who, under some plot contrivance, all gather to recuperate at the titled House in Umbria. This book demands all of your concentration as the narrator is given to digressions which may, or may not, be relevant to the plot line. Do not assume that the fact that Maggie Smith plays the narrator in the HBO movie means that the narrator is sympathetic figure. In fact, I found myself repulsed by her behavior, which may account for the lack of stars in my review. Ultimately horrifying and unsatisfying.