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HILL TOWNS

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HILL TOWNS Anne Rivers Siddons (HarperCollins, $22) Since her parents were killed by a car while making love on a bridge, Catherine Gaillard has cloistered herself high on a Tennessee mountain, always able to ”know what was coming.” In a surge of bravery (and after years of therapy), a middle-aged Catherine makes her first trip away from home. Surrounded by a merry troop of expatriates and fellow Southerners, she battles her husband and agoraphobia on a trail through Tuscany. Anne Rivers Siddon’s vibrant, compassionate tone captures Italy’s powerful effect on the timid, and even the frightened Catherine becomes compelling. B+ -Rebecca Ascher-Walsh