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Under the Tuscan Sun Paperback – 31 Jan 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Paperback, 31 Jan 2004
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group); New edition edition (31 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055381611X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553816112
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,367,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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 colour, 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. --Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Lyrically written and beguiling... What makes it special is the sustained note of joy in it; joy in the beauty of the Tuscan countryside, the sights and sounds of daily life, the physical labour involved in the restoration of this 200-year-old villa and the five acres of land that go with it" (SUNDAY TIMES)

"Like many delightful books, this account of restoring a Tuscan farmhouse and its land is hard to classify. The author is a poet, good at evoking atmosphere and describing place; a cook who collects appetizing winter and summer recipes; an academic who sets her new home in its Roman and Etruscan context. Above all, Mayes is an enthusiast for starting over. After the dissolution of a long marriage, she celebrates Christmas in Italy with her grown-up daughter and her new partner. 'Is this much happiness allowed?' she asks. You bet" (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

"Frances Mayes is a wonderful writer. She captures with exceptional poetry and vivacity the extraordinary beauty of Tuscany. She understands Tuscany like a person who was born and has lived here all her life" (Lorenza De'Medici) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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By Tony Watson VINE VOICE on 20 Nov. 2002
Format: 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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Format: 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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