Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a memoir of Mayes' adventure in buying an Italian villa.
This was my book club's pick for this month, and it's not something I'd usually read, so I'm grateful for the venture outside of my norm.
However, it wasn't my favorite. A large part of that's because it's dated. She's talking about the years between 1990-95 which is now 20 years ago. Times have changed. With the prevalence of internet and cell phones, I can't imagine that getting a house and living in a house in Italy hasn't changed.
Her descriptions of the calmness of Italy is infectious, however. I could feel myself relaxing, imagining the smell of lemons and picking herbs in a bright sunlit garden. It made me a little homesick for summer -- especially since I read this in two "snow days" that I had off from work. I was cold and I wanted sun. Mayes is fantastic at describing the way sun feels.
She spends a lot of time describing food too. I love food. So it's a little hard to read about any kind of food and not want to eat it. When I read things about pie, I want pie. When I read things about curly fries, I get a mysterious craving for curly fries. Mayes includes two chapters on recipes. She calls the cuisine easy peasant food, but each recipe looked difficult and time-consuming. Of course, that made sense when I found out Mayes is a gourmet chef. Everything seems easy if you can make anything.
The one thing I could truly connect with in the book is her desire. She feels an indescribable pull to Italy. I feel that way about France. And maybe I'm a little irritated because this book just made me want to buy a house in France and live there. But Mayes is working at a college and is an older adult with a handy husband. I'm a recent college graduate with a job that gets me buy but in no way could ever afford me a house. Situations are never ideal, but mine is especially distant from being able to move to France on a whim.
If you love Italy, you'll probably enjoy this book, even if it is dated.