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review 2018-02-02 03:07
Bella Tuscany
Bella Tuscany - Frances Mayes

Very much more of the same from Under the Tuscan Sun but with more travel and more poetry and more philosophical musings.  


I really just wanted to hear about the house and their village, so I found myself skimming whenever the chapters covered their travels.  I usually love the travel bits, but a combination of my mood and her tendency to write about their trips within Italy the way academic historians write about battles made it all feel too tedious.  But I loved hearing about the house, the restoration, re-building the gardens, and harvesting the olives.  That took up about half the book, so I went with a down the middle rating of three stars.

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text 2018-01-31 00:53
Under the Tuscan Sun re-read
Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes

A neighbor gave me a copy of the follow up to this book, Bella Tuscany, and as I started reading it, I realised there was a lot of stuff I didn't remember from this book, and a lot of details I'd conflated with the movie.  So, a re-read was in order.


I still stand by the 3 stars I gave it the first time.  It's a beautiful book and I want to chuck it all and move to Tuscany more than ever, but the writing takes some getting used to.  It's often lyrical (sometimes to extremes) and often abrupt; in a lot of sentences, the pronoun is just meant to be assumed.  A lot of readers won't like the style.  I was often one of them, but still, I lost myself in a hot, Tuscan hillside all over again, and I'm looking forward to continuing the trip in Bella Tuscany.

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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.


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