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
This isn't a bad book, it just isn't for me. I found the minutiae of restoring a centuries-old home to be tedious and, mostly, uninteresting (though it did have its moments). The descriptions of the food were intriguing at the start, but got old pretty quickly. We see what they ate Every. Single. Day. I kept wondering how the author could remember in so much detail what she served for dinner.
The biggest turn-off for me was the complete lack of insight into any of the characters. Even Ed, the life partner, was this nebulous entity roaming around hefting rocks and choosing wine. I learned very little about Francis herself, other than her tastes in homes, food, and wine. Yes, I know it's non-fiction, but some more humanity would have made this a more interesting read.
I did enjoy the descriptions of the town, and the parts where they left their home and visited other parts of Tuscany. Those were the bits where I could see what it would be like were I to travel there (and I do love to travel).
If you are thinking of buying a home overseas, you can probably glean a fair amount of information from Under the Tuscan Sun. If you are a foodie, you will appreciate the sensuality of the whole food experience. If you are neither, this may not be the book for you.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
What a superb book. I could not put it down! Now I definitely must go to Tuscany! Highly recommended 🇨🇦Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth Gayle Fellows
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 9 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
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