Under the Tuscan Sun Paperback – Sep 2 1997
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I love France's Mayes descriptive books. You really feel like you are in Tuscany. She takes you right there just by reading her words. Loved it.Published 3 months ago by Melissa
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 morePublished on Oct. 26 2013 by Changmin Sun
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 morePublished on July 12 2004 by Virginia Allain
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 morePublished on June 23 2004
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 morePublished on June 21 2004 by M. A Bolton
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 morePublished on May 18 2004 by V. Marshall
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 morePublished on May 18 2004 by Rebecca Whiting