When the Mountains Dance

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474614634

Price: £20

ON SALE: 30th March 2023

Genre: Lifestyle, Sport & Leisure / Travel & Holiday / Travel Writing

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‘In the wake of the strongest earthquake in Italy for nearly forty years and the many aftershocks that followed, Italians began speaking of the earth beneath our feet as la terra ballerina, the dancing earth. The dance they spoke of was unrelenting.’

Foreign correspondent Christine Toomey spent years renovating her glorious, long-abandoned hill-top home in Le Marche, Italy, as a haven of rest from covering crises around the world. But in 2016, the peace and beauty of this beloved landscape were thrown into chaos when a series of powerful earthquakes struck the heart of the Apennines.

Wracked with grief for a place still reverberating with seismic aftershocks, Christine set out on a journey of discovery through the history of a landscape that gave birth to so much of Western culture and civilisation.

Fuelled by a collection of century-old letters, oil paintings and an earthquake map of Sicily hidden away and thick with dust in her attic, she becomes increasingly absorbed in the life of the last permanent resident of her house, the enigmatic priest, Don Federico Bellesi, and begins to unravel his own myriad connections to the convulsions that rock the region.

When The Mountains Dance is a heartfelt, thought-provoking, and boldly intimate story imbued with love but also tough reality. It is a story about the places that make us, and the life-changing thunderbolts that can come at all of us, at any time, from any quarter.


A brilliant memoir
Mariella Frostrup
An optimistic, airy book with high cultural references. From the drama of the earthquake, from that dancing of the mountains, from those territories damaged but not vanquished, Christine shows us all of them
Adolfo Leoni, Il Resto Del Carlino
A beautifully written, many-layered and poetic book . . . As well as a description of an existential disaster, this is also a meditation on the fragility of the human state and mind and life itself. Brilliant! There is deep meditation here
Adam Williams, author of THE BOOK OF THE ALCHEMIST
Engaging and contemplative
Caroline Moorehead, TLS