Book Review: Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes

Title: Under the Tuscan Sun
Author: Frances Mayes
ISBN: 9780811808422
Pages: 280
Release Date: September 1, 1996
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Frances Mayes travels to Italy with her lover, a mysterious man referred to only as “Ed” in the book, and falls in love with a house named Bramasole in the Tuscan city of Cortona.  It’s in a state of disrepair, so she begins fixing it up, and falls in love with Tuscany in general.

Review:

When I received a review copy of Frances Mayes’ latest Tuscan memoir Every Day in Tuscany, I decided it was high time to go back and read the three that came before it.  While I’ve seen the movie version of Under the Tuscan Sun starring Diane Lane, I didn’t really know what to expect with the memoir.

My first thoughts after finishing the book were, “Wow! That is really different from the movie!”  From the situation of the main character to almost all of the secondary characters, there were a lot of liberties taken with the movie.  The main character shares the author’s name and buys a house named Bramasole in Tuscany that needs a lot of fixing up – that’s about where the similarities end.

Under the Tuscan Sun is much less about events than it is about the joys of living each day.  Yes, fixing up the house definitely brought its share of horrors, but Mayes shows the reader how to slow down and take life one step at a time, how to revel in simple pleasures such as sunshine. It’s a languorous read though – not a lot happens, it’s much more about the descriptions.

The food in Under the Tuscan Sun is really to die for.  Mayes includes some of her own recipes, which I’m definitely planning on trying, but her descriptions were really delectable.  She finds delight in simple Tuscan cuisine, describing it in detail for the reader.  I’d recommend having a big bowl of pasta ready to eat while reading this book or you will be very hungry once it’s over.

I enjoyed reading Under the Tuscan Sun and will definitely be reading Mayes’ other Tuscan memoirs before moving onto Every Day in Tuscany.  Though I did wish she went into more depth on the locals of Cortona (the only interactions she really describes are those with the people working on her house), I found this to be an enjoyable look at the pleasures of life.

Comments

  1. Hmmm. I think that might make me angry, that there is that big of difference between the book and the movie! I do love the movie. I have it loaded on my iPod as one of those movies I can watch anytime if I need a pick-me-up. Amongst my friends and I, it is a fantasy tale, moving to a beautiful strange country and fixing up an old villa. Sort of like “A Year in Provence”.

  2. Hmmm. I think that might make me angry, that there is that big of difference between the book and the movie! I do love the movie. I have it loaded on my iPod as one of those movies I can watch anytime if I need a pick-me-up. Amongst my friends and I, it is a fantasy tale, moving to a beautiful strange country and fixing up an old villa. Sort of like “A Year in Provence”.

  3. I have had this book sitting on the bookshelf for a while now. I really enjoyed the movie, and I know they were different than each other, but I didn’t realize how different they where. But, I think your review has helped me push the book up on the list. Hopefully I’ll be able to read it soon. It sounds like it has a good message in it.

  4. I have had this book sitting on the bookshelf for a while now. I really enjoyed the movie, and I know they were different than each other, but I didn’t realize how different they where. But, I think your review has helped me push the book up on the list. Hopefully I’ll be able to read it soon. It sounds like it has a good message in it.

  5. I loved the book and the movie both and it makes one want to run away from wherever one is and I was not the runaway type either! Gorgeous descriptions and the food to die for.

  6. I loved the book and the movie both and it makes one want to run away from wherever one is and I was not the runaway type either! Gorgeous descriptions and the food to die for.

  7. I have this book sitting on my shelves. I don’t particularly remeber how I got it, because the premise sounds like it’s not a book for me at all, but your review makes it sound really good, so maybe I’ll end up reading it anyway.

  8. I have this book sitting on my shelves. I don’t particularly remeber how I got it, because the premise sounds like it’s not a book for me at all, but your review makes it sound really good, so maybe I’ll end up reading it anyway.

  9. I read this book in college and I think I fell more in love with Mayes’ project to fix the house and cook in it than with Mayes herself. I actually found Mayes a bit boring, but the whole IDEA of what she did was so cool! I want to go buy an old villa in Europe and fix it up…

  10. I read this book in college and I think I fell more in love with Mayes’ project to fix the house and cook in it than with Mayes herself. I actually found Mayes a bit boring, but the whole IDEA of what she did was so cool! I want to go buy an old villa in Europe and fix it up…

  11. Wow it’s been so long since I read this so I loved reading your review! I loved her book and found moving to Tuscany to be a great idea! The movie I found lacking. However I don’t think I read anything else by her so I’ll be looking forward to what you think of the rest of her books.

  12. Wow it’s been so long since I read this so I loved reading your review! I loved her book and found moving to Tuscany to be a great idea! The movie I found lacking. However I don’t think I read anything else by her so I’ll be looking forward to what you think of the rest of her books.

  13. I saw this in B&N yesterday on the Buy 2, Get One Free table and was very very tempted. I regret not getting it now, but I have already added it to my Wish List!

  14. I saw this in B&N yesterday on the Buy 2, Get One Free table and was very very tempted. I regret not getting it now, but I have already added it to my Wish List!

  15. I’ve had this one in my TBR pile forever. I have held off on watching the movie because I like to try to read the book first. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it read but I certainly enjoyed your review!

  16. I’ve had this one in my TBR pile forever. I have held off on watching the movie because I like to try to read the book first. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it read but I certainly enjoyed your review!

  17. I’ve seen the movie but not read the book, too, but now I’m definitely going to buy a pound of pasta and read the book. Well, as soon as I finish the stack next to my bed. 🙂

  18. I’ve seen the movie but not read the book, too, but now I’m definitely going to buy a pound of pasta and read the book. Well, as soon as I finish the stack next to my bed. 🙂

  19. I haven’t seen the movie, but I imagine I’d love the book since I’m a memoir junkie.

  20. I haven’t seen the movie, but I imagine I’d love the book since I’m a memoir junkie.

  21. Sounds like one I definitely need to pick up but I’m glad to know going in that I shouldn’t be expecting the movie when I read the book.

  22. Sounds like one I definitely need to pick up but I’m glad to know going in that I shouldn’t be expecting the movie when I read the book.

  23. The book is quite different than the movie. I adore the movie (even though I read the book first, and it’s always the example I give to point out sometimes the movie is better!). I liked the book, but I was underwhelmed. I read it while I was traveling in Tuscany, but it didn’t hold up against Alice Steinbach’s travel memoir I read right before it.

  24. The book is quite different than the movie. I adore the movie (even though I read the book first, and it’s always the example I give to point out sometimes the movie is better!). I liked the book, but I was underwhelmed. I read it while I was traveling in Tuscany, but it didn’t hold up against Alice Steinbach’s travel memoir I read right before it.

  25. You should have linking this up to Weekend Cooking! Anyway, yes! I keep telling people that the book is NOT the movie — I really loved this one. I read it a few years ago but never read any of her other books.

  26. You should have linking this up to Weekend Cooking! Anyway, yes! I keep telling people that the book is NOT the movie — I really loved this one. I read it a few years ago but never read any of her other books.

  27. I bought this book because a friend insisted I absolutely had to read it, and it’s been a favorite ever since. I didn’t want to buy it because I loved the movie and reading the book after seeing the movie doesn’t work for me, usually. But the movie Under the Tuscan Sun is so loosely based on the book that I almost found it weird that they gave it the same title. And it was because the two were so different that I can love them both and not feel that one is better than the other. (You can’t often say that about movies based on books, can you?)

    I read Bella Tuscany, too, and enjoyed it (but not quite as much as UtTS).

  28. I bought this book because a friend insisted I absolutely had to read it, and it’s been a favorite ever since. I didn’t want to buy it because I loved the movie and reading the book after seeing the movie doesn’t work for me, usually. But the movie Under the Tuscan Sun is so loosely based on the book that I almost found it weird that they gave it the same title. And it was because the two were so different that I can love them both and not feel that one is better than the other. (You can’t often say that about movies based on books, can you?)

    I read Bella Tuscany, too, and enjoyed it (but not quite as much as UtTS).

  29. Another book that sounds perfect for me!! I love the sound of this book, and the fact that it has a foodie angle really gets me excited! I will have to see about scoring myself a copy of this one. Though I am a little flabbergasted to hear that the movie and the book were so different.

  30. Another book that sounds perfect for me!! I love the sound of this book, and the fact that it has a foodie angle really gets me excited! I will have to see about scoring myself a copy of this one. Though I am a little flabbergasted to hear that the movie and the book were so different.

  31. I had no idea the movie was based on a memoir. This sounds very different than the movie, but definitely seems like it would be a great read!

  32. I had no idea the movie was based on a memoir. This sounds very different than the movie, but definitely seems like it would be a great read!

  33. I’m not familiar with this book. Will have to keep and eye out for it. Thanks.

  34. I’m not familiar with this book. Will have to keep and eye out for it. Thanks.

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