The author's observations as a traveler through Italy were interesting enough, albeit more of a "where and when not to go" instructional guide. Come to think of it, she made Italy sound god-awful for the most part, some of which may be very good information to tuck away.
But what really put me off about the book was her complete self-absorption. If this is humour, well, it sure is appallingly selfish and cruel.
Poor Jane, boo-hoo! The reader endures 293 pages of her rage, loathing, resentment, and self-pity; apparently, she has had to live to her 50's feeling as though she has never been the center of her mother's universe. (Otherwise, her upbringing did not seem to be especially or unusually difficult or deprived.) Thankfully, with 19 pages to go, she crosses the threshold of maturity while gazing at a marble statue (which at this point, is far more interesting to the reader than Jane), and destroys her list of carefully nurtured grievances.
It was never stated exactly how old her suffering mother was, but to take someone in such a state of ill health and disability on a long, poorly planned journey was just unbelievable. Jane was so busy wallowing in her bitterness that she never once showed an iota of compassion toward her mother until the end of the story when they'd returned to their old routines at home. It was shocking to see the number of times and places where Jane trotted off to indulge her unhappiness, leaving her mother in possibly dangerous or difficult situations.
Given that arthritis is a genetic curse - and that nobody escapes aging - I truly hope that someday, Jane Christmas knows what it's like to walk with a walker! May she be spared such a witch of a daughter when the time comes.