The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher

Rome, 1955The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome's historic villas, a party is bright with near-genius, shaded by the socialite patrons of their art. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. Larger than life, muscular in both figure and opinion, he blazes at art criticism and burns half his paintings. He is at th...

DownloadRead Online
Title:The Italian Teacher
Author:Tom Rachman
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Italian Teacher Reviews

  • Angela M

    This novel is in many way about art, the art of an eccentric, self centered, overbearing, unfaithful man, a painter appropriately named Bear Bavinsky. It’s about the artist who is famous and yet shuns the critics and the galleries, destroys his work if it is not how he wants it to be .There are certainly some thought provoking questions raised about art and the relationship the artist has with his work, about creativity. For whom is the art created - for the artist, for those who look at it, for

    This novel is in many way about art, the art of an eccentric, self centered, overbearing, unfaithful man, a painter appropriately named Bear Bavinsky. It’s about the artist who is famous and yet shuns the critics and the galleries, destroys his work if it is not how he wants it to be .There are certainly some thought provoking questions raised about art and the relationship the artist has with his work, about creativity. For whom is the art created - for the artist, for those who look at it, for the rich collector who stows it away or is it to be placed in a museum for the masses ? What is it’s worth - is it monetary or meaning? It’s about the man’s personal life as he moves from place to place from wife to wife abandoning not just the wives but the children along the way, at least five wives and eleven children.

    Even with this, the heart of the story is his son Pinch (Charles ) Bavinsky. Taking us from Rome to New York to London to Toronto to Pennsylvania to France and back to some of these places again, we follow Pinch from age five in 1955 through 2011, with the novel ending in 2018. Bear, of course looms large in Pinch’s life, as Pinch continually seeks approval from his uninterested father. I saw this as a portrait in loneliness in many ways. Pinch, as a child never had friends and it isn’t until college that he finds a best friend in Marsden. Pinch never seems sure of who he really is or what he should be doing . He’s indelibly connected to art by birth perhaps, or because this is where he needs to be to be close to his father or is he really an artist himself? We experience his failed relationships as he seeks the closeness that has evaded him, ambitions that never seem to come to fruition and these raise questions about what one does with their life, how well lived is it? Pinch does eventually discover who he is and I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers. This is the third novel by Tom Rachman that I have read and enjoyed. He is definitely on my list of authors that I never want to miss.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Riverrun through Edelweiss.

  • Elyse

    I read “The Imperfections”, by Tom Rachman, with my local book club ways back - and wasn’t crazy about it in the same way other members in our group were — I found it dry and dull ...

    I never wrote review after our group discussion. I just forgot about it.

    And - then - this week I was given this lovely Advance copy of “The Italian Teacher”.

    And WOW.... what a completely different experience from the same author.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel - which begins in Rome, 1955.. then 1965...then in Tor

    I read “The Imperfections”, by Tom Rachman, with my local book club ways back - and wasn’t crazy about it in the same way other members in our group were — I found it dry and dull ...

    I never wrote review after our group discussion. I just forgot about it.

    And - then - this week I was given this lovely Advance copy of “The Italian Teacher”.

    And WOW.... what a completely different experience from the same author.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel - which begins in Rome, 1955.. then 1965...then in Toronto, in 1971...then London...back to Toronto... Pennsylvania in 1976....

    London in 1981.....1985...1990....1996...1998...2002...2007...2010...2011......2018

    There are a few things that appealed to me right away. The names of the 3 main characters were each interesting:

    Bear Bavinsky...Pinch Bavinsky ( his son whose real name is Charles), and Natalie (Natty)... wife and mother of Pinch. Turns out it wasn’t just their names that were interesting: THEY WERE!

    The other things I liked right off the bat:

    .......this story had an art theme.

    .......the savvy and cunning dialogue.

    This story belongs to Pinch. When we first meet him he’s only five years of age. His dad, Bear, is a great painter and Pinch strives to make himself worthy for his father‘s attention by first trying to be a painter himself, ( I was aching for Pinch in a few scenes when he was young as Bear could be a slimball), then by writing his father‘s biography and then eventually, disillusioned, Pinch takes a job as an Italian teacher in London.

    When Bear dies, Pinch has a plan- rather an unlikely scheme to assure his father’s legacy.

    There are other great minor characters - Bear was married 4 times - with several kids from each marriage — so lots of half siblings. Under the humor - much of this story is downright heartbreaking. Yet... the humor really is priceless and the story is as entertaining as can be. Love Tom Rachman’s writing of this novel.

    Thanks Will! Nice gift!

  • Tammy

    Rachman is a marvel. You meet the main character, Pinch, as a child and follow him throughout his life. Pinch’s father, Bear, is a negligent father, drinker and womanizer in addition to being a much admired and successful artist. As Rachman puts it, “But your relatives judge you relatively.” After trying and failing poor Pinch just can’t measure up to his father’s greatness and lives a small life, but he is determined to leave a legacy. How Pinch goes about doing this is brilliant.

    Filled with wa

    Rachman is a marvel. You meet the main character, Pinch, as a child and follow him throughout his life. Pinch’s father, Bear, is a negligent father, drinker and womanizer in addition to being a much admired and successful artist. As Rachman puts it, “But your relatives judge you relatively.” After trying and failing poor Pinch just can’t measure up to his father’s greatness and lives a small life, but he is determined to leave a legacy. How Pinch goes about doing this is brilliant.

    Filled with warmth, humor and the very human frailties that plague us all, The Italian Teacher is a five (very bright) star read for me.

  • Katie

    An underlying premise of this novel is that personality is just as important as talent in achieving fame. TV perhaps bears this theory out. Pinch, the novel's main protagonist has very little personality. He's completely overshadowed by his artist father, Bear Bavinsky. Bear conforms to just about every popular cliché of the artist - an egotistical womaniser who uses his fidelity to his art as a means of blundering through life like a self-indulgent child without restraints. (I was almost ashame

    An underlying premise of this novel is that personality is just as important as talent in achieving fame. TV perhaps bears this theory out. Pinch, the novel's main protagonist has very little personality. He's completely overshadowed by his artist father, Bear Bavinsky. Bear conforms to just about every popular cliché of the artist - an egotistical womaniser who uses his fidelity to his art as a means of blundering through life like a self-indulgent child without restraints. (I was almost ashamed of myself for finding him attractive!) The author manages to create a compelling character of this cliché who gives the novel a lot of its vitality.

    The novel opens in the 1950s when Bear is married to Natalie, a potter, and Pinch is a young boy. They live in Rome. I spent one of the best years of my life in Rome and I loved the author's vibrant and insightful portrait of the eternal city. You could tell he had spent a fair bit of time there and its rhythms and sights were a part of his lifeblood.

    Pinch's idealisation of his father, at the cost of starving affection for his mother, begins early. His father has a kind of animal charm which allows him to pursue his megalomaniacal course without causing too many misgivings in his son. It's a fabulous portrait of the outrages an egotistical male with bags of charm can get away with. All Pinch's aspirations centre on earning his father's admiration, a problem that will follow him into adult life and will grow ever more complex after the novel's big twist.

    For me The Italian Teacher was a thoroughly entertaining read. 4.5 stars.

  • Marialyce

    4.5 gloriously written stars

    Being a parent is a hard job, perhaps the hardest one out there. It requires one to be there always for another person, a guide, a mentor, a friend, a person whose love is never questioned. For Charles, also known as Pinch, the lack of his father's attention plays havoc with this young boy's life. Pinch is a shy boy, loved by his mother, Natalie, but forever seeking the attention and approval of his artist father, Bear Bavinsky.

    Bear is a bigger than life artist, husb

    4.5 gloriously written stars

    Being a parent is a hard job, perhaps the hardest one out there. It requires one to be there always for another person, a guide, a mentor, a friend, a person whose love is never questioned. For Charles, also known as Pinch, the lack of his father's attention plays havoc with this young boy's life. Pinch is a shy boy, loved by his mother, Natalie, but forever seeking the attention and approval of his artist father, Bear Bavinsky.

    Bear is a bigger than life artist, husband, lover to many woman, father to scores of children, but to Bear, art is the thing and his focus and his love is placed on a piece of canvas and paint. His human relationships mean nothing for he is a selfish man catering to his appetites and neglecting the son and all the rest of his seventeen children. Pinch is the son who so needs him. He idolizes his father and tries so very hard to win his affection. At one point in this poignant story, he shows his dad something he has painted and as we all hold our breath waiting for some affirmation, Bear tells him he will never be an artist. Bear keeps on slinging those arrows in Pinch's direction and ultimately throughout the boy's lifetime. Pinch will spend a lifetime, looking for one gesture, one word, one action that will show him that his father cares.

    The story travels back and forth across the ocean as Bear moves about marrying and divorcing many, and Natalie, becomes more and more out of touch with reality. Pinch, grows and escapes as well to America and then onto London where he becomes a teacher of Italian. In the meantime, he falls in love, but his wife is so enamored with Bear that she creates conflict and eventually divorces Pinch. He has other friends but not the friend he truly needs and wants, his father.

    This was a story of the inevitable harm a parent can do to a child. By being a father in name only, Bear destines Pinch always to think of himself as a failure.

    We do meet some wonderful characters in this novel, ones that align themselves with Pinch, but ones that we are never quite sure if it is Pinch they want to be near or is it Bear? The ending of this tragic story comes eventually full circle as we see Pinch deciding his own fate and claiming some things for himself. Pinch remain conflicted his entire life, but as his life ends, he really does get the last laugh.

    I want to thank Tom Rachman for wonderful writing, the publisher, and edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this most moving novel.

  • Cheri

    Songwriter: Billy Joel

    There’s quite a bit of traveling about the world in this story from Rome to London, Toronto, New York, France, and Pennsylvania. There’s also a bit of traveling through time, as this begins in 1955, with stops along the way, and ending in 2018. There’s another journey, as well: to the world of Art, artists, and the journey to become a known, accomplished artist.

    And a well-kn

    Songwriter: Billy Joel

    There’s quite a bit of traveling about the world in this story from Rome to London, Toronto, New York, France, and Pennsylvania. There’s also a bit of traveling through time, as this begins in 1955, with stops along the way, and ending in 2018. There’s another journey, as well: to the world of Art, artists, and the journey to become a known, accomplished artist.

    And a well-known, accomplished artist is what Bear Bavinsky has become as this story gets underway, married in his earlier years to Natalie, or Natty, as she is called by Bear, and eventually their son Charles comes along. Charles goes by the name of Pinch, a name his father bestowed upon him in his young years.

    Bear is a self-absorbed, arrogant man, unconventional even in his outlook about his paintings and dismissive of the opinions of others. Those pieces he deems less than perfect are relegated to the fire-pit. His view toward his wife, then wives, is similar. When they’ve lost that shiny glow, he finds a newer model, finding many to choose from among those who model for him. He marries several times, fathers more children than I could keep track of, all of whom he tends to leave behind as easily as he departs from their mothers. Still, he needs to feel someone really sees him, someone who really sees him as he sees himself, who sees him in his art. That person is Pinch, who wants so desperately to be loved by his father that he tells Bear only that which he knows Bear wants to hear, confirming Bear’s opinions, decisions and, as he grows older, his talent.

    As a boy, Pinch had dreamed of being an artist like his father, seeing the importance attached to Bear, the way others treated him as opposed to his mother, a sculptor. He wanted that, he wanted what his father wanted. To be seen as someone special. The fact that he received that from Natty, his mother, meant less and less as he grew older. Visting his father once with a newer wife and a house filled with children by the time he is able to visit, he shares a piece of his art he’d brought along to get Bear’s opinion. Bear’s response is soul-crushing, letting him know that he had no talent; he would never be an artist.

    As he enters those decision-making years for post-university careers, he decides that he will write a book about his father’s career as an artist. He wants others to see the brilliance of the man. When that doesn’t really work out the way he planned, he changes to becoming a teacher, teaching Italian in London.

    Through all these years, he becomes the one that Bear can consistently turn to, confide his fears in, look to for confirmation that his decisions are the right ones. That he is, in fact the only one he wants to have his estate, when he dies. Years away, of course, with the last years of his work never sold, never displayed, hidden away in a cottage in the middle of nowhere.

    There are some surprise twists and turns to this story, and some subtle humour, and a lot of family squabbles and maybe even some subterfuge to keep things entertaining. A thought-provoking novel about families, about creativity, and the meaning of art, and the influence of the popularity of an artist’s work being the measure of its worth.

    This is the first of Tom Rachman’s novels that I’ve read, so I can’t compare this to any of his others. I enjoyed this, I was engaged throughout despite the frustrations associated with reading this as an ePUB.

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by First to Read

  • Bam

    Bear Bavinsky is an acclaimed American artist living in Rome in 1955 with his young Canadian wife Natalie and their little boy Charles, nicknamed Pinch. Bear is a huge man in both body and personality who is totally focused on his work: "My real life, it's when I'm working. It's entirely there. The rest--everything--is flimflam. And that's tragedy."

    Bear is a perfectionist who burns any painting that displeases him. His vision for his art is that it should hang in museums where many people can ad

    Bear Bavinsky is an acclaimed American artist living in Rome in 1955 with his young Canadian wife Natalie and their little boy Charles, nicknamed Pinch. Bear is a huge man in both body and personality who is totally focused on his work: "My real life, it's when I'm working. It's entirely there. The rest--everything--is flimflam. And that's tragedy."

    Bear is a perfectionist who burns any painting that displeases him. His vision for his art is that it should hang in museums where many people can admire his work, rather than belonging to private collectors.

    Bear's magnum opus, his 'Life-Still' series, depicts women's body parts and was featured in Life magazine until a bare breast was noted (gasp!) and the magazine was forced to call back the issue. Was that why Bear left the NY art scene behind in favor of the company of Roman ex-pats?

    On those rare occasions when Bear really focuses on his family, it's like the sun coming out on a gray day. He can be so charming and charismatic when he wants to be! Natalie, an inspiring artist herself, has lived in Bear's artistic shadow, content to be his muse, his inspiration. Pinch lives for those moments when Bear notices him and seems pleased with his son, so he feels the warmth of the sun at last.

    But soon Bear is gone from their lives for good, gone back to America to marry another woman, to start a new family--did Natalie kick him out for his philandering ways? "Even if a man's important, he doesn't get to live by different rules."

    Charlie wants a mission like his dad's so he works at developing his artistic skills while his mother returns to her potter's wheel. But when Charlie, now a teen, visits Bear in New York, Bear tells him something that will send his life in another direction entirely, for good or bad.

    This is very much a character-driven story--very subtle and ironic. For all that I've just talked about Bear Bavinsky, this is really Charles' story. Can he come out from under the suffocating influence of his father, be a success in his own right, create meaningful, lasting friendships and find love?

    Did I learn anything from this novel? Perhaps to be careful who your heroes are. Some have feet of clay.

    Many thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to read an arc of this new novel, my first taste of Tom Rachman's work.

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is the Roman spawn of a Canadian sculptor and a celebrated American artist. Bear Bavinsky achieved his reputation in the 1950s by painting body parts, never faces. His canvases are masculine and virile to match hi

    Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is the Roman spawn of a Canadian sculptor and a celebrated American artist. Bear Bavinsky achieved his reputation in the 1950s by painting body parts, never faces. His canvases are masculine and virile to match his Hemingwayesque personality. He is a charmer. Woman become weak in the knees around him, gallery owners froth at the mouth, collectors beg to be allowed to buy his art, and even those who meet him that don’t know who he is find themselves seduced by his magnetic, larger than life personality.

    Pinch worships his father and spends a lifetime trying to get his attention. Bear is rather indifferent to his offspring, almost calloused, but when he does share the warmth of his attention with one of them, it is like they have inhaled a drug they can’t get enough of. So his kids end up loathing him and loving him in wildly changing measures. Bear likes his kids more when they are small and cute. By the time they get older, he doesn’t have to deal with them because he has already moved on to the next woman. Sometimes the next woman overlaps with the current woman. Bear is a self-indulgent, egotistical, domineering nightmare to be involved with, but every one of his past conquests would drop everything to be with him again.

    Out of all of his wives, girlfriends, flings, we get to know Pinch’s mother Natalie the best, the woman who inspired some of his best paintings. As any woman would be, she is overwhelmed by him. Her attempt at an artist’s career is floundering and drowning in the wake of his successes. As Pinch gets older, he becomes more reflective about his mother, less embarrassed by her, and more understanding of the sacrifices she made to her own aspirations to be Bear’s muse and to raise a child by herself.

    It is not enough to be good. The world churns on personalities. By Bear being a larger than life figure, how good was his art? Are even the critics capable of evaluating him properly if they are caught like moth in the glow of his flame? Bear is hyper critical of his own art, and few of his pieces ever survive from a blank canvas to a finished painting. He keeps a barrel in the back alley that he can burn the paintings that are deemed imperfect.

    So we follow Pinch through his trials of trying to become a painter only to see him slapped down by a single damning sentence from his father. The Bear God has spoken so there is no point in continuing. Pinch becomes an academic, intent on becoming known well enough to write his father’s biography in yet another attempt to prove himself worthy of his father’s respect.

    Pinch meets a few women in the course of his life, but he is not very successful with any of them. His marriage to Julie is a disaster.

    This reminds me of Marcel Proust’s great quote:

    I applaud Pinch for finding Julie attractive for not being beautiful. I personally find women who are perfectly beautiful rather unappealing. There is something unreal about them. I’d rather see a woman with a gap between her teeth or with features slightly out of balance or, better yet, to be attractive because she is passionate about something or wickedly intelligent.

    My only concern is that, after reading about the descriptions of the legions of women that Bear found attractive, I feel this sinking suspicion that Pinch’s interest in Julie is based more on his father’s ideal of a mate than his own.

    The plot moves us from Italy to the United States, mixed with several desperate trips by Pinch to his father’s estate in France to try and insure his father’s legacy continues to grow. The lengths that Pinch is willing to go are really beyond the pale.

    The payoff for me in this novel is that Pinch does finally assert himself in a

    hand clapping style that had me grinning to myself. There are all kinds of ways to win, and Pinch finds a sneaky way to become almost as famous as his father.

    I enjoyed Tom Rachman’s

    so it was no surprise to find myself absorbed in this new cast of characters. Of course, Bear takes center stage even when he isn’t on stage, but the supporting characters to his largeness, like Natalie and Pinch, are much more real than he could ever be. It is so hard to have a good life or the right life. By the time we have figured out what we’ve done or not done, twenty years, forty years have passed, and we are looking in a mirror at a stranger. The fire in the belly has dampened and regret can be a shroud that covers us til we expire. Pinch may have given up too many years standing in the shadow of his father and chasing a vision of himself shaped by his obsession with his father, but I do hope in the end he understood that his life, though far removed from his expectations, was still a good life.

    If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit

    I also have a Facebook blogger page at:

  • Theresa Alan

    “The moneyed all speak of art, the artists all speak of money.”

    This is an unusual novel. Usually, the protagonist has a goal and has to overcome obstacles to achieve that goal. In this book, none of main characters are admirable. Bear Bavinsky is a celebrated artist when the story begins in 1955, but he treats the endless stream of women in his life like crap and ignores the seventeen children he has with wives and girlfriends and mistresses because he’s such an important artist he can’t be bot

    “The moneyed all speak of art, the artists all speak of money.”

    This is an unusual novel. Usually, the protagonist has a goal and has to overcome obstacles to achieve that goal. In this book, none of main characters are admirable. Bear Bavinsky is a celebrated artist when the story begins in 1955, but he treats the endless stream of women in his life like crap and ignores the seventeen children he has with wives and girlfriends and mistresses because he’s such an important artist he can’t be bothered.

    One of his wives is Natalie, a potter who isn’t quite right in the head. Their son, Charles, or Pinch, has low self-esteem, in part thanks to Bear. Charles is the primary point of view in this book, and the fact that he muddles through life eking out a living as an Italian teacher makes him not particularly likeable.

    The writing is choppy—it doesn’t flow. While the name dropping of great artists of the 20th century is interesting if you’re a fan of art history (which I am), it’s hard to root for characters who limp through life or are filled with self-importance.

    Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book, which RELEASES MARCH 20, 2018.

    For more reviews, please visit:

Best Free Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2018 Best Free Books - All rights reserved.