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Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by…
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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
5,2381181,266 (3.53)1 / 144
  1. 00
    Summer's Lease by John Mortimer (SnootyBaronet)
  2. 01
    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 (114)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Estonian (1)  All languages (120)
Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
I read this first years ago, liked it, and so held on to it. When going through books trying to figure out what to keep and what to ditch this was a pretty early choice into the giveaway box. But, then I decided to read a couple pages and almost fell in love again.

This continued for almost the first hundred pages, and then Mayes' ornate prose began to irritate me, her little pretty metaphors and digressions began to consume the book until there was almost nothing left.

The book was best when it concerned the couple finding their dream home and fixing it up - I could ignore their obvious affluence and distracting San Francisco organic pretensions.

But the house was fixed all too soon and we were left with the town and surrounding countryside to describe. I can hear about espresso downing and bricked up plague doors only so many times.

Maybe it's not Mayes' fault. I think my irritation this time only has to do with her alarming writing similarity to Diane Ackerman, urgh. I think I'm done here.

The fluffy Diane Lane movie was really an improvement. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
The author has an incredible ability to describe things she has experienced until they become real to the reader as well. I had long, boring episodes that described only landscapes, sites, and food, and I read it all, mainly thanks to the fact that I could almost see all the scenes, feel the unique atmosphere in the historical sites and taste the tasty recipes. After reading this book you feel like you've been to Tuscany, and more than that - as if you know her - and it's a significant advantage because Tuscany is fantastic, and I know that since three times in my life I've been to it. It is astonishing to see how a foreign writer managed to write in such a precise and vivid way the essence of a whole country in a distant land and to pass it on to many people around the world, awakening a yearning for a remote and unknown place. ( )
  Ramonremires | Jan 26, 2019 |
I read this years ago, but I didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now. It helps to be someone who has undergone massive home renovation so that you can really empathize with her experiences of bringing Bramasole back to its former glory. Her descriptions of Tuscany, particularly Cortana, make you feel as if you’ve been there yourself. ( )
  DrApple | Sep 25, 2018 |
I've had this book probably since it was first published in the mid-Nineties but I never had the urge to read it until now. I've seen the movie that was ever-so-loosely based on it and I have to admit that the movie didn't fill me with enthusiasm to read the book. The other day I had this urge to read it, so I curled up in bed with it. Honestly, it was like I was there. There isn't a great deal to say about this book. It's memoir, it's travel-writing, it's lush and beautiful. There doesn't need to be a plot, just an atmosphere.

The way Mayes describes the house, the countryside, and the food is amazing. She loves it, you can feel that. I want five acres of olive and fruit trees and herb gardens. I want a house I can open to the outdoors and a big marble sink and hardwood floors. I want the sense of peace she describes having while she's there. There's one chapter where she talks about her life taking on its own rhythm, having a mid-day siesta, waking up at 3am and reading for an hour before going back to sleep, then getting up early.

I'm inspired by some of her recipes. I'm planning on making some of them this week. Just a little indulgence for myself. ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 114 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
for Ann Cornelisen
First words
"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.
Quotations
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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