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Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by…

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (1996)

by Frances Mayes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tuscan Memoirs (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,1601171,254 (3.54)1 / 139
  1. 00
    Summer's Lease by John Mortimer (SnootyBaronet)
  2. 00
    The Latelife Crisis by Florence Cestac (Anonymous user)
  3. 01
    Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Under the Tuscan Sun is a dreamier book, gentler and more idealistic than the rough-and-tumble and sometimes drug-soaked Blood, Bones & Butter, but both authors adore Italy and are lavish at showing their love on the pages.

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English (111)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Estonian (1)  All languages (117)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
I bought this book hoping it would be like the movie. It was not. Not even close. Ok. I thought I could deal with that and read it. I started and was immediately overtaken with the beautiful prose. Her luscious descriptions of the food and the landscape was almost enough to transport me to Tuscany. However, the more I read, the more bored I became. I normally force myself to finish what I start but in this case, I couldn't. The fact that it has no linear course, no plot to speak of, the characters are pure caricatures of Italian cliches... just to name a few of my grievances I started liking this but after page 153, I just couldn't continue it. So I put it down for a few days and then picked it up, my mind firmly set on finishing it. It was easier to read this time around. I suppose that I knew already what I was going to get so it made the journey better. ( )
  lapiccolina | Aug 22, 2018 |
Heartwarming and delicious.
"Frances Mayes - widely published poet, gourmet cook oh, and travel writer - opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores and abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In sensuous and evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. And accomplished cook and food writer, Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book.... A celebration of the extraordinary quality of life in Tuscany, (this book) is a feast for all the senses."
This book is written in a very poetic style. The author writes in a very eloquent and overly descriptive way which really adds to the taste and feel of how it is to be in Tuscany. A little bit difficult to read if you are not the poetic type. It can be a bit difficult to follow the storyline. However very beautifully written.
As in most cases the book differs from the movie just a bit. I personally like the film adaptation better than the book which is a rarity but it does happen. However I did enjoy the book very much and loved how the author wrote in such a way that you really feel and taste and see and imagine that you are there with her in the hills of Italy.
This is an absolutely gorgeous book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a light-hearted memoir. ( )
  TheReadingMermaid | Aug 8, 2018 |
I don't tend to bail on books before I finish them, but I did on this one. Just not my cup of tea, I suppose. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Even if I never get to go back, I've been able to travel to Tuscany (Florence, specifically), and that makes me incredibly lucky. But it's one level of privilege to be able to visit briefly. It's a whole other level to be able to buy property over there and actually live there for parts of the year. But what some of us can only dream of, others are able to make happen and Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun recounts her experiences buying and renovating a farmhouse in Cortona, Italy, and the first years she spent with it as her Christmas and summer home.

First things first: the movie (which I've never seen) is apparently not a strict adaptation of the book. While in both cases Frances' divorce from an apparently very wealthy man (she mentions it only vaguely in the book) is what enables her to purchase the home, the movie apparently gives her a hot new Italian man to mend her broken heart. In reality/the book, she is already happily remarried by the time she decides to start looking for a summer home in Italy. Let me stress that again: they have the means to start searching for a summer home in ITALY. If rich white people doing home renovation, eating food, and contemplating their navels is not your deal, this book will not be for you. I've seen rather a lot of negative reviews focused on the premise that the book is not like the movie and/or annoyed that it's about nothing more than wealthy people doing construction and eating.

There are reasons I found the book to be a mixed bag (hence the very middle of the road rating), but they don't have anything to do with either the lack of romance or the privilege. Well, sort of the latter, I guess, because my biggest beef with the book is that there isn't really any conflict. Story structure has remained remarkably consistent over recorded history, which means there are clearly elements that are naturally appealing to people when they're taking in a tale. One of the fundamental pieces of a story is conflict: we want to see our protagonists struggle with obstacles. Frances...doesn't, really. She obliquely mentions that things are expensive, but there's never any indication she has to scrimp or save or go without in order to afford them. She and her husband do a lot of DIY to fix the place up, but the impression is that they enjoy doing it, and don't need to do it for money's sake. It all just seems to roll along...they find the house, they buy it, they do gradual repairs, they start spending a lot of time there, they make new friends, and they're happy. Which must be lovely to experience, but pretty boring to read about.

What saves it from being a total snooze is the writing. Mayes is a poet, and it shows. It's beautifully written, and the way she writes lets you see with your mind's eye the lawn at Bramasole with the bright yellow table she had painted, loaded with fresh and simple but delicious food, looking out on the olive trees and flowers and rolling hills. There's an enjoyable element of wish fulfillment fantasy...very very few people will ever get to live the kind of dreamy life she shows us (I have no doubt there were and are less wonderful elements behind the scenes, but she doesn't go into them), so it gives us a window into what seems like an incredible experience. But I had trouble focusing on it because I was honestly mostly bored after about the first 100 pages or so. ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
I had heard of this book and I did enjoy it for the most part. The best parts were where she described the Italian people, especially the people working on their house and the people of Cortona. I also enjoyed her talk of the food and the wine. It almost transported me to Italy! Parts of it were tedious and hard to read, especially the chapter after the house was finally completed. I just slugged through that chapter because I was determined to finish this book! ( )
  LilQuebe | May 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
It was with considerable baggage that I recently revisited "Under the Tuscan Sun" this year, on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary, and discovered that my opinion of the book has grown ever so slightly more generous with age. This is not to say that I found the book free of flaws the second time around. For one, it contains virtually no narrative conflicts; each incident that could potentially cause tension gets resolved within paragraphs or, at most, a few pages. Will the villa’s previous owner sell to Frances and her partner, Ed? Yes, he will. Will a big pile of money needed to make the deal arrive by wire? Several paragraphs later, it does. Frances stubs her toe, to much consternation, and a few lines later Ed applies a Band-Aid...

However I feel about Mayes and her privilege, and the marketing phenomenon that has flourished in her wake, there’s no denying that her prose brings Bramasole to life. When the workers begin to open up a wall between her living room and the kitchen, removing large stones, Mayes writes, “It’s the imagination that carries us through the stress of these projects. Soon we will be happy!” During a Christmas Day snowfall, while her daughter and a friend are visiting, she asks, “Is this much happiness allowed?”

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mayes, Francesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Quijada, EncarnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reerink, DonsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Ann Cornelisen
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"What are you growing here?" The upholsterer lugs an armchair up the walkway to the house but his quick eyes are on the land. [Preface]
I am about to buy a house in a foreign country.
Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767900383, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:13 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A chronicle of the author's first four years in Italy, describing her purchase and restoration of an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside, her transformation of the overgrown gardens, and her discovery of the many links between the food and culture of the region.… (more)

» see all 12 descriptions

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