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review 2018-01-17 17:05
Letters to the Pianist
Letters to the Pianist - Frances Mayes

In war-torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the bombing of their family home but their parents are believed to be dead, buried under the rubble. They don't know that their father has been taken to the hospital with amnesia. Years later, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist who looks exactly like her father. The only way to find out for sure is to write him a letter, and as the pianist's memories surface, his new life begins to fall apart.

I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. I did like the early days - with the Goldberg's as a whole, and as poor Ruth had to stay with aunt Fenella and uncle Harry while her younger siblings went to stay with aunt Betty. The characters were okay. The concept was interesting. I liked the setting. But I found it long and drawn-out. Once I put the book down I didn't really want to pick it back up. I'm happy it's over and now that it is I seem to enjoy it more looking back on it than I did while I was reading it.

I won a copy through LibraryThing. Thank you to BHC Press for my copy.

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review 2016-12-21 03:27
Under The Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy - Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes has long been on my to read list. Unfortunately, though, I found it really challenging to stay engaged in this meandering memoir. Some paragraphs and phrases capture my attention because they capture a certain beauty. For the most part, though, the book reflects a stream of consciousness journal and travelogue, and I can only read so much of that.


Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/12/under-tuscan-sun.html


Reviewed for the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.


Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/12/under-tuscan-sun.html
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review 2016-10-18 23:54
Like a charming visit to Italy
Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes

Edit:  I mentioned in my review that the author paid $1,000,000 for this abandoned villa because she said in the book that she wrote "milione" at the closing so many times.  But Ms. Mayes sent me a tweet questioning where I got that price and that it was a fifth of that or $200,000.  That was when I realized that I hadn't converted the milione that she mentioned from lire to dollars!  It was her entire savings from her marriage that she put into this home.  Plus they did a lot of the work themselves.  Quite a difference with the conversion.  So thank you, Ms. Mayes, for this clarification!


I’ve long been familiar with this book but until now had never had the chance to read it. The 20th Anniversary Edition is being released so I grabbed the chance to read it all these years later.


This memoir is beautifully written and pulls you right into the atmosphere that exclusively belongs to Italy. Though I’ve never visited Italy, I do enjoy reading about it and believe it’s a very unique place. Ms. Mayes and her husband had the privilege and daring to buy a run-down villa in Tuscany 20 years ago and she and her husband undertook the extensive renovation of it.  I must say that it left me quite astonished to hear that they paid $1,000,000 for this villa, were still able to put so much money into the renovation and that this was only to be their summer home.  I couldn’t quite relate to that but regardless of that disconnect, I very much enjoyed reading of their adventures over the years.


The beginning of the book details their search for a home, their finding of Bramasole in Tuscany, their search for contractors and decisions made as to what the renovation would entail and the actual renovation. I love watching “This Old House” and other shows like it so enjoyed the first part of this section.  However, I did become a bit bored with some of the renovation details.


But then she goes on to talk about her exploration of the neighboring areas and her finding of little known paths, roads and churches that she finds and I was entranced. And then, since she’s apparently a gourmet cook, there are the wonderful descriptions of the food of Italy and pages of her recipes that I definitely will be trying over the winter.


All in all, the author has shared her delight in Italy with her readers in a completely captivating way. Recommended.


This book was given to me by the publisher through Blogging for Books in return for an honest review.


More Info

Author Bio

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text 2015-07-28 19:59
School's right around the corner and I'm unprepared!
Modern Times: The World from the 20s to the 90s - Paul Johnson
A History of the Twentieth Century: The Concise Edition of the Acclaimed World History - Martin Gilbert
Theodore Roosevelt's Letters to His Children - Theodore Roosevelt
Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain,Mark Bostridge
Some of Us Survived: The Story of an Armenian Boy - Kerop Bedoukian
The Napoleon of Notting Hill - G.K. Chesterton
Men Behind Hitler: A German Warning to the World - Bernhard Schreiber
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories - William Saroyan
E = mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation - David Bodanis,Ralph L. Fowler
Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes

So I was suppose to go over this HUGE list of books and pull the ones I wanted to do this year for school.

yea...needless to say I didn't.

I have FIVE days to read thru the list and try to gather them up.

Books I know I need to get :

Theodore Roosevelt's Letters to His Children

Modern Times, by Paul Johnson

Testament of Youth

Some of Us Survived

The Napoleon of Notting Hill

The Men Behind Hitler: A German warning to the world

Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

E=Mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes


There are several Essays I need, but I'm sure I can get them online. (hoping!)


If anyone has read any of these on the list and absolutely HATED them please let me know.


*if you were wondering, we do our schooling with Ambleside Online. It's a Charlotte Mason approach to schooling.

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review 2015-05-01 00:00
Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes As someone who is moving to Tuscany soon, and as a fan of A Year in Provence, I thought I'd enjoy this book. The truth is that it's OK, but nothing special. There are some great depictions of the Italian countryside, Italian people (especially workers), and lots of great descriptions of Italian food (I got very hungry reading this book). And that's about it. The rest is an unfocused mix of the author's thoughts, travels, and recipes, and it can be a chore to get through. This book would be a delight if you dropped the irrelevant material and cut it down to half its length, but as it is, it's hard to recommend it.

A few good quotes from the book:

A Chinese poet many centuries ago noticed that to re-create something in words is like being alive twice.

On my way out, I see a man in a sweater, despite the heat. The trunk of his minuscule Fiat is piled with black grapes that have warmed all morning in the sun. I'm stopped by the whiny, musty, violet scents. He offers me one. The hot sweetness breaks open my mouth. I have never tasted anything so essential in my life as this grape on this morning. They even smell purple. The flavor, older than the Etruscans and deeply fresh and pleasing, just leaves me stunned. Such richness, the big globes, the heap of dusty grapes cascading out of two baskets. I asked for un grappolo, a bunch, wanting the taste to stay with me all morning.

How Italian will we ever be? Not very, I'm afraid. Too pale. To unable to gesture as a natural accompaniment to talking. I saw a man step outside the confining telephone booth so he could waive his hands while talking.
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