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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 + Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life
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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 Pasta and Vino Anyone? Nov. 18 2003
All this book did for me was make me hungry. The author incorrectly categorized this piece as fiction and literature, when in fact it is a glamorized cookbook with some house restoration spices thrown in. I am going to cut out the recipes (most of which look quite appetizing) and use the rest of the book for firestarter.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Still love the book Oct. 26 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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!!!

There's a movie based on this book as well so if someone has no time to read the book, at least watch the movie. :)
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3.0 out of 5 stars How was the movie based on this book? July 25 2013
By Asher
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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. The human component that was so appealing in the movie is completely missing in the book---it's really just a mash-up of renovation tales/travel foibles/recipes/I-cooked-dinner-for-my-rich-friends-in-Italy which does not read fluently.

Some other commentors have noted the condescending tone of the book and I'd like to thank them as I had the same feeling. There is a holier-than-thou voice throughout that is not very endearing. Ms. Mayes never hesitates to remind us that she's only pages away from "her real self" that she "discovered" in Tuscany and all us lesser mortals might as well give up because we'll never have the same fulfillment that she has found. It's all very grating.

The lead characters in the movie are non-existant in the book. The story is completely different. The mysterious Ed has a role in weed-wacking tasks but in little else.

The reason I gave this book 3 stars is simply for nostalgic reasons and for the way Mayes wrote about her newly acquired olive groves and fruit orchards with such a deep love. I enjoyed the chapters based on her gardening triumphs and found the "monumental wall rebuild" rather interesting. The ordinary miracles of uncovering mini cisterns and old discarded kitchen accoutrements on the property were charming. Otherwise this is definitely a book to skip.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Biggest Snore...... April 11 2004
The descriptions of food go on and on. Actually, the descriptions of EVERYTHING go on and on. They're not interesting or enchanting they are just words on a page. The main problems:
Mayes' tone is condescending (and that's being kind). She acts as if she discovered Cortona, villa renovation and fresh produce. Please! I kept hoping a big Tuscan stone would hit her on the head so she could acquire a new attitude.
I can't even describe the plot because there isn't one. Travel logs are fun, exciting, amusing; I didn't even crack a smile as I read about food, stones, food, Frances Mayes and food. So, she's a good cook. I got it already, no need to talk about it for 200+ pages.
Characters besides Mayes and her high opinion of herself are nonexistent; 280 pages - is Ed her husband, her boyfriend, her slave? Whatever, I don't even care anymore. I'd feel sorry for him if I could figure out who he is.
I could go on and on, but I'm not Frances Mayes so I won't.
My advice to her is to get over herself. My advice to a potential reader is to get over your impulse to read this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 24 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
1.0 out of 5 stars I'll try finishing it, but I'm dubious
As a great fan of Peter Mayle and Susan Hermann Loomis, a friend bought me this book, and I tried reading through it, but got really sick of "this didnt happen, so I... Read more
Published on May 5 2004 by RW
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Descriptive Memoir
Recently divorced, Frances Mayes, decides that it is time to do something that she's always dreamed of doing with her life. Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by Erika Sorocco
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