Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sophia Rose Reviews - Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Caio Bella today we're basking in the Tuscan sun courtesy Sophia Rose.
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Publisher:  Broadway Books
Published: 9.2.97
Pages: 320
ISBN-13:  978-0767900386
Rating: 4
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Self
Sellers: Amazon B&N

GoodReads Blurb:
Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.

Sophia's Review:

            A chance to journey along looking over a person's shoulder as they go from summer holiday tripper in Tuscany to owning an old Tuscan farmhouse needing a vast deal of TLC was an intriguing prospect.

I had seen the movie adaption of this book, but the movie is only one small facet of all that is covered in gently-paced slightly distant reflections on a years' long labor of love and life. This book reads like a blend of journal-scrapbook-ideas-memorabilia-organizer all wrapped in one. And that's pretty much what the author says it is- the tidied version that is.

I immersed myself in Frances and Ed's (two American university professors) summer and other holiday adventures in buying and restoring an old Tuscan farmhouse. There are details of their personal projects, the entertaining attempt and moderate success of working with Italian contractors and laborers in spite of a limited knowledge of the language. Details of acquiring their home pieces and indulging in the amazing produce and other foods of the region from growing their own, to markets, to cooking and entertaining. Social engagements of encounters with the locals, meeting for dinners around at the homes of an international community of ex-pats including a famous writer that Frances is a fan. The anguish of disappointment and humor, too, in the contractor hired to work while they are away back in America and then the hum of industry while they pull out all stops to deliver a fabulous wedding for their friends. There is so much more including a section of her Italian recipes that I was grateful to find in the center of the book after all that talk of food.

I will say, that I'm probably the opposite of most readers. I got bored during her sightseeing trips in the region, reminiscing of the past during her childhood in Georgia, or her thoughts on her life and how it’s changing, but I was really into the restorations and projects around their home along with talks of marketing and cooking.
It is slow-paced for certain and meanders a great deal. It reads better in small bites of time rather than larger consumption of pages at a time. It follows a general linear time line and offers episodes in their Tuscan summers so it’s not messy, but it won't read crisply or quickly either.

All in all, it was a pleasant reading experience that gave me a lovely vicarious trip to Tuscany. I definitely don't think I'm up to restoring an old Tuscan farmhouse, but staying in one and shopping in the market or eating in the restaurants or going tourist on the region would definitely be a dream come true.

Author’s Bio:
Frances Mayes's new book is Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir , published by Crown. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.

In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the World; the illustrated books In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home; Swan, a novel; The Discovery of Poetry, a text for readers; and five books of poetry. She divides her time between homes in Italy and North Carolina. 

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.
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Today's Gonereading item is:
A great selection os coffee mug
Click HERE for the buy page


  1. Love the setting for this, how fun! Great review!

    1. It is Kindlemom. I too like Sophia thought it was fiction and now its on my pile

    2. I did feel like I was getting a good idea of what Tuscany is really like. Loved it.

  2. Oh I would love the restorations and projects Sophia.

    1. oh yeah, especially the workmen he he he ;-)

    2. Yes, it was fascinating how they kept discovering these things about their farmhouse like a medieval aqueduct system or that a bedroom was once an animal stall when the animals were kept in the house back in the day. It was fun. :)

    3. And Debbie, Ms. Frances did make a note of several handsome Italian and even Polish workmen. ;)

  3. I loved the movie because of the restoration and food bits so betting I'd love that in the book, too :)

    1. It's different from the movie, but yes if the food and restoration got your attention then you'll enjoy this one. She makes you feel like you're right there, Anna, so be prepared to be hungry. :)