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Under the Tuscan Sun [Paperback]

Frances Mayes
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (356 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 2 1997


Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.

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Under the Tuscan Sun + Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy + The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen
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Product Description

From Amazon

In this memoir of her buying, renovating, and living in an abandoned villa in Tuscany, Frances Mayes reveals the sensual pleasure she found living in rural Italy, and the generous spirit she brought with her. She revels in the sunlight and the color, the long view of her valley, the warm homey architecture, the languor of the slow paced days, the vigor of working her garden, and the intimacy of her dealings with the locals. Cooking, gardening, tiling and painting are never chores, but skills to be learned, arts to be practiced, and above all to be enjoyed. At the same time Mayes brings a literary and intellectual mind to bear on the experience, adding depth to this account of her enticing rural idyll. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mayes's favorite guide to Northern Italy allots seven pages to the town of Cortona, where she owns a house. But here she finds considerably more to say about it than that, all of it so enchanting that an armchair traveler will find it hard to resist jumping out of the chair and following in her footsteps. The recently divorced author is euphoric about the old house in the Tuscan hills that she and her new lover renovated and now live in during summer vacations and on holidays. A poet, food-and-travel writer, Italophile and chair of the creative writing department at San Francisco State University, Mayes is a fine wordsmith and an exemplary companion whose delight in a brick floor she has just waxed is as contagious as her pleasure in the landscape, architecture and life of the village. Not the least of the charms of her book are the recipes for delicious meals she has made. Above all, her observations about being at home in two very different cultures are sharp and wise.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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I AM ABOUT TO BUY A HOUSE IN A FOREIGN country. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wherever you go, there you are April 1 1998
By A Customer
The reader-reviewers from Pennsylvania and Cambridge (above) reflect my impressions exactly. If you want to get to know Italians and Italy (short of spending a very long time there), read Tim Parks, Barbara Grizzutti Harrison, E. M. Forster. If you want recipes, read Marcella Hazen. If you want to read a really delightful travel memoir, read At Home in France, by Anne Barry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious read. Unorganized material. March 10 1998
By A Customer
I found this book tedious. Perhaps more work should have been done rather than simply copy the author's scrapbook memoirs into book form. Not enough care was taken in the organization of the text. In addition, the workers and their names, the contractors, those that did the work, and those that applied for the work, they're ALL there and are taking up too much space and time for no reason. Some are such unnecessary characters. So a contractor seemed to be charming, but she didn't hire him... I feel like the author would list everyone she met in the street if she only had their names in her scrapbook. Why was this book on the bestseller lists?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pompous and self serving Sept. 26 2003
Frances doesn't belong in the country I recognize. She is extremely patronizing toward Italians and appears to be a spolied rich girl. Who is Ed? Is he her boyfriend; future spouse; current beau?
She makes it seem all of if all of us can simply purchase a home in Tuscany. It is second nature! We all have off four months a year We were all left huge inheritances. Frankly after reading this book I can't stand the woman. She is also quite condescending toward Italians (my heritage) and Ed. It's all about Frances and her petty problems.
I can't believe they made a bogus movie based (losely) on this book.
Please visit Tuscany and you will see it's different that this self-indulgent tripe.
By the way we visited Cortona and spit at her house!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLE QUICK SUGGESTION!!!! Sept. 25 2003
By A Customer
Look at the reviews. You either love the book or hate it. There doesnt seem to be much of an inbetween. If you are thinking of buying the book then go to the bookstore and sit down and read the first chapter or two. If you think you can handle more of the same then you'll probably like the book. If you keep thinking....whens the story going to begin and when am i going to stop hearing about the house....youre out of luck...put the book away! I like detail....but this book is like talking to that one person that will never let you leave a conversation and has to tell you about people you dont know and are so descriptive they have to tell you the name of ever intersection they passed in their story. I think this will probably be the first time I've EVER said this.....THE MOVIE IS MUCH BETTER THAN THE BOOK!
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4.0 out of 5 stars yummy book! April 10 2004
By A Customer
Reading this book was like being submerged in a warm scented bath. As I read it, I felt like I was being born along on a raft on a sleepy, sunny summer day. It reads like a stream of consciousness, and I found it easiest to just dip in and out of it. There did not seem to be any linear organization, but the poetry of Mayes' prose compensated for that nicely. Don't expect the book to "pick up" at any point, it maintains the same leisurely pace until the end. Do however, expect your mouth to start watering, as Mayes describes her meals (many recipes are provided, as well). No matter how much of a carnivore you are, you will probably find yourself craving pasta with fresh tomato, basil and olives.
The nice thing about this book is just as you find yourself envying Mayes for her luck in finding this house, you get a description of the temperamental plumbing or disappearing workmen, and you think twice about going out and plunking down your life savings into a house in Italy. Her renovations on the house were anything but a smooth ride.
I haven't seen the film, but I recommend the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I want to buy a villa in Tuscany Feb. 4 2004
This book is THE most sensual book I have EVER read. And NOT in the sexual way. Everything about this book is sensual. The descriptions are so vivid. You can see it, you can touch it,you can smell it, you can taste it. It's just so beautifully written that I fell in love with the raw earthiness of this book so completely.
I am disapointed with the reviews that others have given this book, dismissing it as a guide book or trivializing the gorgeousness of it. I understand that people all have different opinions, but I also, at the same time, cannot help but wonder if they have missed the point of the book all together.
It is a book that was written out of love FOR a labor of love...for and about the people and the country that Francis Mayes genuinely keeps deep in her heart. Her love for all of that comes out so completely, so uninhibited that one cannot help but fall hopelessly in love with it all as well.
Now the movie is only a little like the book. And although I very much love the movie, the book is dearer to my heart. Only because the movie screen cannot do justice to the people and the country that Francis Mayes has given it with words.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, lush, and enchanting Jan. 19 2004
Frances Mayes did for Tuscany what Peter Mayle did for Provence.
I was unfortunate enough to miss an airline connection in JFK, and the airline gave me a $15 voucher for lunch as an apology. I bought this book and a BIG margarita with UAL's money, sat in a booth at TGI Friday's, and nearly finished reading it before my substitute flight was called. I can vouch for this combo as a successful way to combat airport blues.
Mayes takes us with her as she, recently divorced, takes her next egg and, against the strident advice of her accountant, sinks pretty much all of it into a big old house on a large piece of property in Cortona, up in the hills of Tuscany. We watch her wrestle, as Mayle did before her, with the inevitable problems: language barriers, cultural barriers, a European worker's altered sense of time, faulty plumbing, surprises when walls are knocked down, etc. She and her lover (now her husband) weren't even there full time; they did this restoration over a period of years during school breaks and long holiday vacations.
A poet, travel writer, and creative writing professor at SF State, Frances Mayes finest creation is surely her Tuscan house and garden, but coming in a close second is her collection of books she's written on the subject. Don't miss it; it's a thoroughly delightful read, even without the killer margarita in your other hand.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Still love the book
I've read the book long time ago. Bought this copy for my daughter and I read a couple of chapters again. Still love it!!! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Changmin Sun
3.0 out of 5 stars How was the movie based on this book?
I absolutely loved the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun". This is the first time I've ever been able to say that the book was inferior to the movie. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Asher
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, lovely Tuscany
Even if you never plan to visit Tuscany, it is worthwhile to saturate yourself in Tuscan sunshine, inhale the aromas of Italian meals and feel the heartbeat of the countryside by... Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by Virginia Allain
4.0 out of 5 stars Audio version comment
The content of this is very good - but don't read it when you are travelling along empty stretches of highways and you are hungry! It's torture! Read more
Published on June 23 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Bascially "A Year in Tuscany"
I, like many other readers, was put off by the author's flippancy at spending money. The book was full of complaining about the costs of extreme renovations and their... Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by M. A Bolton
5.0 out of 5 stars Fall in Love With Tuscany
Frances Mayes has written a beautiful memoir about her home in Tuscany. Along with Mayes you experience all of the crazy unsettling ups and downs of purchasing a home abroad and... Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by V. Marshall
1.0 out of 5 stars Unintentional Self Parody
At least Frances Mayes had some ostensible reason for being in Italy -- she was using American dollars to buy an Italian house, thereby doing her part to drive up the cost of... Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by Rebecca Whiting
4.0 out of 5 stars no Peter Mayle
I had the impression that Mayes wants to be Peter Mayle.
Published on May 16 2004 by snowblaze
3.0 out of 5 stars better than the movie, but not good enough
Anyone planning to visit Cortona would do better to read Amanda Craig's novel, Love in Idleness, which not only has the advantage of being funny but is infinitely better-written. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by "acarponi"
4.0 out of 5 stars A really absorbing book
I loved the gentle, meandering style of this book. It is SO much better than the movie. If I were Frances Mayes, I would have some fairly vehement issues about what the... Read more
Published on May 7 2004
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