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