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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape with Frances Mayes
Frances Mayes, an American professor in her late 40's, buys a derelict house near the Tuscan village of Cortona. She is recently divorced, and having spent many happy holidays in Italy before, decides to take a big risk in buying this small estate with 5 acres of land that is half way across the world. This book is about "what happens next" as she and her partner Ed...
Published on 13 Sep 2008 by Kittycat

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start!
I found this book quite funny at the beginning. As a foreigner living in Italy for these last 12 years I laughed out loud reading those everyday life incidents and lets call them diplomatic misunderstandings that different cultures bring with them.
I could just simply relive the bizarre situations that the authors describes and in a way feeling a bit relieved I...
Published on 15 July 2008 by Acquafortis


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape with Frances Mayes, 13 Sep 2008
This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
Frances Mayes, an American professor in her late 40's, buys a derelict house near the Tuscan village of Cortona. She is recently divorced, and having spent many happy holidays in Italy before, decides to take a big risk in buying this small estate with 5 acres of land that is half way across the world. This book is about "what happens next" as she and her partner Ed begin the long process of renovating an old house that has not been lived in for over 30 years.

Due to their teaching schedules, they are able to devote an entire summer every year, plus a Christmas break, to the renovations. In between removing eco-systems of spiders and scorpions, linseed oiling the cotto floors, cleaning windows, designing the new kitchen and bathrooms, clearing the terraces of weeds, they also make trips to other parts of Tuscany where Mayes describes the food, the architecture, the people, the landscape. As the renovations progress, you get to meet the local tradespeople, some of the villagers, as well as Mayes' guests who visit from America.

I love this book and read it about once a year. Warning! By the end you will be longing to jump on the next plane to Italy, if only to find a good trattoria and sample some of the foods & recipes Mayes presents in her book. It is a quiet book, which may not appeal to those who saw the movie starring Diane Lane, but if you are looking to read something heartwarming on a cold winter's day, do read this one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start!, 15 July 2008
This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
I found this book quite funny at the beginning. As a foreigner living in Italy for these last 12 years I laughed out loud reading those everyday life incidents and lets call them diplomatic misunderstandings that different cultures bring with them.
I could just simply relive the bizarre situations that the authors describes and in a way feeling a bit relieved I wasn't the only one having problems.
Somewhere in between the book became a bit boring and I had to plod my way through the pages. The author seems to love a lot Italian cuisine because she's always describing what she's eating in the various restaurants she's been at, in different places in Italy, especially Tuscany.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and poetic account of the expat life in Italy, 9 Feb 2001
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This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
This is the first of now 3 books written about Mayes purchasing, renovation and living in an old villa in Tuscany. There are plenty of these sorts of books around at the moment but this is probably one of the better ones.
First of all it should be made clear that this book is about privileged expats living in Italy, it is not about life in Italy at all. Mayes does write with a lovely lyrical style, it is very poetic; strained at times, a bit forced and trite in places, but overall the writing is very pleasing to read. Mayes cleverly evokes delightful scenes and is particularly expert at bringing incredible meals wafting off the pages.
I talked about this book with my brother and he mentioned that he found Mayes too smug. I think he is right, she is smug, but oddly enough I didn't mind that at all. If I ever fulfil my dream to own a house in Italy (Umbria not Tuscany!) I think I will allow myself to be a little smug too.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rustic Tuscany., 20 Nov 2002
By 
Amazon Customer "Bones" (Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
My goodness - she does eat a lot! And she does go on a bit too long about the Etruscans in the middle of the book ... and (as others have commented) she is a little 'wordy'.
But apart from that, she certainly conjures up the lifestyle, the countryside & the FEEL of Italy - sorry, the feel of TUSCANY - quite unlike other parts of Italy. At times I could almost smell the air filled with the scent of hay, peaches & herbs. We have relatives there with friends who renovated an old house - she could have been describing their place, on the same hillside!
If you haven't been to Tuscany, this will make you wish to be there ... ***
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cold overcooked pasta, 4 July 2012
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
Oh dear, what have the poor Italians, French and Spaniards ever done to deserve the influx of well-heeled foreigners who decide to settle in their midst and then proceed to patronize them with books like this?

This is the usual story of someone who loved a place located far from home, her attempts to find an affordable house there, the magical moment when she found it and her fantasies about the blissful years ahead, sharing delightful meals with friends on the terrace and admiring wonderful views - that is, once she has installed all the conveniences of modern life like running water, electricity etc.

Unfortunately, to achieve this nirvana, she has to deal with the crafty locals who are out to milk the ignorant incomer and relieve her of her savings.

After all the trials, it turns out that, despite their external appearances, each one of these local peasants, storekeepers, lawyers, builders etc. has a heart of gold and everyone lives happily ever after.

(Unless you are Dirk Bogarde, that is, whose never-ending autobiographies chronicled more of the downs than the ups and his subsequent decision to leave his idyllic place in Provence as illness, old age and encroaching urbanization destroyed his dream.)

The subject has been done to death and does not improve with repetition.

I thought this might be different as it was written by an American rather than a European but I was wrong. It is as dull as a plate of cold overcooked pasta washed down with tap water.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading and great film to watch, 1 April 2009
By 
Morticia DeCat "Irena Bee" (Atherstone Warwickshire UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Under the Tuscan Sun (Paperback)
I saw the film first on tv and had to go and buy the book and dvd immediately, thank goodness for Amazon on line. It is a gentle romantic love story, with a lovely twist at the end about getting what you wish for, or not...The book is well written and kept my interest throughout. For me, it would be one of those books, you pick up at the airport, settle down for a gentle read whilst holidaying in the sun. It has a bit of everything, emotional, romantic, friendship, amusing, it really got to my heart strings. Definitely worth reading if you like romantic gentle novels. 5 Star rating I'd say. The dvd gives a great visual portrayal of the book - I will certainly read the book again and definitely watch the dvd again and again.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Journey -- An Inspriation, 6 Sep 1999
By A Customer
Instantly I felt transported to a wonderful countryside. The descriptives had me aching to be in Tuscany and enjoying the delights of the people, foods, history, churches, homes, beaches... Thank you, Frances Mayes, for sharing such an intimate part of your life, not to mention the recipes! I bought herb plants and a mini food processor during my reading -- the pesto is exquisite! Many thanks...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit ga-ga, with the underside rumbling underneath, 11 May 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
When I move to a different country, I almost always read books by other foreigners about what it was like for them. For me, this follows a cycle: 1) I gobble them up, 2) begin to tire of them as I find life for me, as interesting as my own experience is, just isn't what it was for them, and then 3) burn out on them for the rest of my stay.

When we moved to Italy, I vowed to read only a few this time. Well, I started with this one and reached my third stage immediately! The country that Mayes portrays is one of ever-lasting beauty and courtesy in spite of all the hassles of disorganization and dishonesty, which she experienced in spades when trying to renovate a Tuscan house. She soaks in the sun, always seems to fine the best food, and unearths antiques buried on her property with just about every footstep, or so it seemed to me. Her time in Tuscany, for it is only during the summer and Christmas break that she goes there, always seems a kind of timeless ecstacy. It appears as a kind a never-never land that is the oppositie of the mundaneness of her California life.

Well, I am sorry to report that I know of no one in Italy who believes in anything near her idealised version of our chosen home. It is an extraordinary hassle to get the simplest things done there, people can be as obtuse and rude as they are anywhere (if not more), and the weather isn't always nice! The Italians have a talent for beauty, but NOT for organization. THe proportion of difficult fools, I must add, seems rather high. And getting paid for what you have done in accordance with a contract! Now I won't even begin to go into that...

While she does explain some of this negative side in her house adventure, I suspect that the limitations of her medium - the travel book - made her need to emphasize the sunny side WAY OUT OF PROPORTION. OK, she is not a reporter, but people are going to read of her ecstacies and make real decisions. As such, her rave review of Italy is misleading and a disservice. For anyone who is contemplating buying a house here, I suggest trying to live her year-round first, to see what it is really like.

Don't get me wrong, there are wonderful things about living there. We wouldn't have stay there otherwise. It just needs to be balanced better against reality.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A treat for the senses, 9 Jun 2004
By 
K. Wilson "mishka97" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Under the Tuscan Sun (Paperback)
Under the Tuscan Sun is a wonderful, vibrant book which made me long to return to Tuscany. Mayes and her partner buy the ramshackel villa in the Tuscan country side. The book follows their adventures in Italy and the trials of restoration in a foriegn country. (especially when the language barriers can create such interesting misunderstandings.)
The inclusion of several recepies which uses the local and in season produce sounded so delicious that I had to try them myself. This book painted such a vivid picture of rural Italy that I can hardly wait to go back.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tuscany to be seen.., 3 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Paperback)
Someone wrote that se's smug.Exactly what I thought myself.The typical American career woman that just brags about her success.I saw the film with Diane Lane after reading the book,and I rarely fancy a movie more than a book.But, in this case,the film shows the beautiful landscape,not only from Tuscany but from Rome and Amalfi..And it's sad too.There is some lack of humour in the book.Too American,maybe.Without that necessary distance to create interest.I also live in Florence,Tuscany and do understand her overwhelming happiness finding a house in this landscape..
If you still want to read the book,see the film aswell. Miranda
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Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes (Paperback - 1 May 1998)
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