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118 Reviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frances Mayes 'gets' Italy...
Enjoyably written by someone who knows and appreciates Italy, especially Tuscany.
Even her philosophical diversions are fun.
Definitely worth reading!
Published 4 months ago by Peter Overing

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ANY OF US ITALIANS LEFT IN TUSCANY?
Snobbish book. Yet I have to say at times Frances Mayes displays a touching vulnerability. I'm Italian-American, and I wonder if others who are Italian or of Italian descent feel as sad as I do that so much of the rich beautiful terrain of Italy is being more and more dominated by rich expatriates, the kind who hobnob with Ms. Mayes and from whom she learns, and in...
Published on Nov. 30 1999


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does anyone care what Frances Mayes thinks?, May 22 1999
By A Customer
I'm proud of myself for finishing this giant yawn of a book. I really enjoyed UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. Yes, it was over-fawning sometimes, as well as preachy and judgmental, but it was about something: renovating a tuscan villa. I loved it for the vicarious thrill of remodeling a house, gardening, cooking, and getting to know the neighbors in Tuscany. So, I presume, did everyone else. This book, however, skimps on everything I liked in the first book and splurges on everything I hated. Three or four chapters (at most) mention the villa, the garden, and the food. That's all. The rest (i.e. most) of the book is Frances Mayes preaching about life , art, politics, and people. We get endless pages on paintings. Does she like this one? Does Ed? Should we? And just when you think you can't take any more, you get whopped with a chapter called "Breathing Art". Yes, "Breathing Art". Beyond belief, isn't it. We also get her uninformed tourist's take on Sicily and the mafia, as well as her beginning Italian speaker's take on the difference speaking Italian makes to one's world view. Then, there is Ed's poetry.... I guess that in the success of her first book, Frances Mayes forgot who she really is: a two-bit lit prof from a two-bit California college who spends a few weeks each year in Italy. Nothing else could possibly explain this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty prose, but very little content., May 20 1999
By A Customer
Now that her vacation get-away in Tuscany has been renovated, the olives planted ... Frances Mayes has run out of things to say. There are only so many pages of people eating and gardening and lounging in their lemonarias that one can stand. The vignettes of Italian life that made "Under the Tuscan Sun" so delightful are all but absent here. Frances Mayes and her husband appear to be spoiled academics with too much money and time on their hands. It is difficult to sympathize with their minor construction problems as if they are life tragedies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy On Persephone's Island instead, April 28 1999
By A Customer
Another disappointment. This dribble has little to do with Italy and no plot. This best part of the book is the picture of the house. The chapter on Sicily appears to be plagerized from On Persephone's Island by Mary Taylor Simeti who has lived in Sicily for years, speaks the language and in contrast to Ms. Mayes really knows the people (published 1986). it is disgusting to see a writer mention her sadness about prostitution in Italy and then move on to discuss hiring full time garderners and choosing between tile or marble for the bathrooms. Also, it is suprising for a woman who claims to love teaching to portray the students she has as "uh like idiots".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frances Mayes should have stopped after the first book., April 26 1999
By A Customer
Please tell me what vacationing in Sicily and Venice, attending a funeral in Minnesota and a wedding in California have to do with Tuscany. The reader buys the book expecting several hundred pages filled with insight into Tuscany only to be bored to tears with the ramblings of a self-indulgent author. Frances Mayes has taken her fantasy of becoming the next Martha Stewart to the pinnacle. First she's a poet and travel writer, then a chef and now a landscape designer and art historian. Even Martha wouldn't attempt this many feats as a mere mortal! This book was written for one reason, to coattail on the success of her first book and to rip the reader off!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frances Mayes 'gets' Italy..., Dec 12 2013
By 
Peter Overing (Dorval, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
Enjoyably written by someone who knows and appreciates Italy, especially Tuscany.
Even her philosophical diversions are fun.
Definitely worth reading!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!, June 28 2013
By 
Ann Jakins (Guelph, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
It read beautifully and has already been loaned to a friend. I've even tried one of the recipes. The book makes me want to travel .
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frances thinks she IS the Tuscan Sun, Aug. 26 2002
By 
Arthur "Arthur" (Wrentham, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
Ms. Mayes has, yet again, managed to upstage a land as magnificent as Italy. For yet another time we are treated to the self-absorbed ramblings of this gastronomo-llectual jet-setter. If you want to read a treatise on life as it can (apparently) be lived in a charmed and timeless European setting, try Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence". He is mercifully less full of himself.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Disaster, April 25 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
Last night my book club got together to discuss this wretched book. All of us absolutely *did not* like the book.
Mayes shallow, stereotyped images disgusted me, it was as though she presented a Disney-fied version of what the citizens of Tuscany were like. Mayes comes across as a snob, and one who doesn't even live an interesting life. She's rude, but not outlandishly so, I couldn't even qualify this as a guilty pleasure reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Closest thing to being there!, Feb. 25 2010
By 
L. Kovacs (Burlington, Ontario) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
If you can't get to Italy anytime soon, this novel will take you there!
The graphic detail of all the history, charm of the country side and fabulous food and wine give you a true depiction of what it is really like.
Frances Mayes will introduce you to the people she meets, their quirky ways and warm traditions.
It's a light and easy read that leaves you smiling page after page.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite!, Sept. 17 2003
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
Mayes is a treat. I loved this book as much as her previous Italy book; can't understand the attacks herein, but it doesn't matter. I love all of the Italian references. The imagery is so powerful that it almost felt as though I were in Italy. It enriched my reading experience by teaching me the finer parts of Mediterranean culture -- and Mayes has done the same in a unique and memorable way. This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to anyone without an ax slung over their shoulder.
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Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy
Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes (Paperback - April 4 2000)
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