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am 10. März 2000
A reviewer below complained that "romanticising the mundane" was a flaw of the book. I agree with the fact that Ms. Mayes does glorify the trivial, yet I find that characteristic to be the ambience of the novel akin to the feeling you get after your first glass of wine on a warm evening. It makes you realize how little you pay attention to detail in your life. Awareness is a quality this e-Generation has suffered from w/its efficacy and speed.
I think that this novel helps heighten your sense of awareness in your own life. Ever arrive at your destination and forgot how you got there? How much in your life do you spend subconsciously making turns and shifting gears in a listless reverie?
This book gives you a sense of awareness that there is delight in the means, not the end. The vivacity lies in the wildflowers as you weed your garden, the sun on your face when you run your errands, the flicker of a candle on the wall, the smell of your first bite of apple. Did you ever roll down your window and smell the air when you drive?
This novel giggles a delight in immersing your self in the history and richness of a new land. Newness magnifies your attention to detail, where events, situations, and olives take on a whole new perspective. As a software designer who spends most of my day looking at the same flat screen of a laptop, I relish the visual imagery of the real world, as Frances Mayes seems to do in Italy.
As a bonus, this book was invaluable on and before my trip to Tuscany a few months ago. Days before our trip, I found myself preparing ribolitta and polenta, giggling when I realized what she meant by the chef's treat for the ribolitta. In Tuscany, it was delightful to add my own layer of interpretation to hers and other authors I have read (Try Matthew Spender).
As with most novels, you become intimate with the main character, whether you agree with their perspective or not (how many ppl really agreed w/Raskolnikov but liked Crime and Punishment?). You peer thru a window of words; you gain knowledge of how the world is seen through the eyes of another. And perhaps, you gain awareness on how you view your own world - be it Tuscany, Tennessee, or Taiwan -- and that awareness can be shared. Ms. Mayes sense of awareness is flows like wine poured from a friend, up late at night, sharing your lives.
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am 30. Januar 2000
I'm half way through this book. I told a friend of mine, who is married to an Italian woman and spends every summer there with his family, that I was reading this book. His comment, "She's a snot". My thought, "Exactly". That this writing has become so popular gives me the chills. Mix thinly minced Scarlett O'Hara with marinated Martha Stewart and saute with a luke warm Danielle Steele novel. This is junior college night class writer's workshop fare. Throw in a lot of foreign words to spice up your writing. Keep a diary of your inner thoughts. Cookbook writing oxymoron. Say arugula. However, the recipes do sound tasty and I think I'll try them. I spent some time in the south and came to recognize the new clothes of racism and the overweening sense of entitlement that still flows in those bloodlines. Instead of pickaninnies we have the more PC Italians, Poles, whatever, whose every gesture amuses Frances with their quaintness. She is actually jealeous of their sense of ample time and lack of hurry. They don't work near as hard as Frances in her busy, professional life back in San Fransisco. And look, a whole valley full of other writers, expats, literati who have all done rennovations. Break out the grappa. I smell a lucrative divorce settlement in the past..."The glass house in California..." Were there a lot of old Good Housekeeping magazines in that house? Do I seem like a frustrated, middle age man who has never pursued his dream and is stuck in a high work volume profession? Maybe. But I still don't like this book. Read Bruce Chatwin instead...real writing...real intelligence...real compassion.
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am 14. April 2000
I am glad I didn't spend money on this book, it was loaned to me. The first third was of interest - how to negotiate buying a house in Italy vs my own country of France. It then became the story of a wealthy American couple pretending to have spent their last penny buying this farm but still managing to go there from California three times a year, spending what must have been a fortune installing a central heating system. What happened to the fireplace? They pretend to live like the locals and certainly don't blend in. We learn that the author owns a Sub-Zero refrigerator in San Francisco, how relevant is this to the story? we also learn that Ms. Mayes's mother had a cook. In brief, I found this pretentious and not worth the paper it is written on, made a great tax write-off though for the Mayes....
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am 21. September 2003
In "Under The Tuscan Sun - At Home in Italy" food and travel writer Frances Mayes tells how she and her husband bought and lovingly restored an abandoned villa in Tuscany.
Through trials and tribulations which anyone who's ever had any building work done can relate to and sympathise with, to the wonders to be found in the local villages and countryside, Mayes describes every episode and encounter with warmth, wit and enthusiasm. She's also included plenty of local recipes you can try, to bring a little bit of Tuscany into your home!
This is more than just a travel book; it's an interesting look at living in a foreign country, as Mayes and her husband try to make Tuscany their home for part of each year.
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am 19. August 2001
Loving myself Italy I fell immediately in love with Mayes book. I enjoyed every page of it. The way she describes Italy is the way I experienced life there, too. It's not that only reading the book is full of pleasure. You can even straight go to your kitchen and cook one of the delicious recipes. Going to Italy in a way means coming home. It's one of the most lovely books I ever read. It combines all I like: beautiful country, irresitable landscape, nice people, great climate, cooking and not to forget speaking about a country which is the cradle of the human beeings, their history, culture. Read the book and have a good glass of vine, maybe a Chianty. And excuse my poor English.
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am 28. März 2000
This is the worst of the self-indulgent 'favourably slumming it' travel books I have read. We are meant to feel that the author has established a link with her environment and feels 'at home' in her holiday home environment, wheras she really is just another rich American pretending to be noble by doing some token manual labour whilst paying the locals for extensive house renovations. As an academic the author writes in a very pretentious style, and the inclusion of 2 chapters of recipes was a joke. Easily the worst travel book I have ever read. Look for something else.
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am 19. September 2000
It is with interest that I have read some of the less flattering reviews for this book. I think it is a lovely opportunity for a little escapism, in the warmth of an Italy that many of us will never have the good fortune to experience. So what if it is somewhat of a self oriented story that makes little mention of the people? It is a gentle and interesting story, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.
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am 27. November 2011
"Under the Tuscan Sun " war Auslöser für den Toskana-Boom und den Run der Toskana-Fraktion auf verlassene Anwesen in der Region. Frances Mayes Beschreibung ihrer mühevollen und oftmals mit Überraschungen gespickten Annäherung an das erworbene alte Haus und die Schrullen der toskanischen Handwerker könnte eigentlich vor Nachahmung abschrecken, tatsächlich vermittelt aber spürbar die Sonne auf der Haut, den samtigen Geschmack eines fassgereiften Rotweins auf der Zunge und so viel italienisches "dolce viva", dass der Leser motiviert wird, stande pede einen Makler aufzusuchen.
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am 21. Juni 2000
I picked up this book at my mother's during the third of my many visits while she is dying from cancer; she said that my daughter had given it to her for this past Christmas, but that she really "couldn't get into it." Terminal cancer does that to you, I guess.
I found it so wonderful...if you allow yourself to project beyond the occasionally convoluted prose...that I could actually imagine myself being there. In fact, so much so that I'm abandoning my immediate goal of returning to Greece..or going to Provenç goal for the last several years...and will go to Tuscany (perhaps after...or instead of...Cinque Terre) this fall or next spring.
I found the book so compelling that I dug out a Nat'l Geographics map of Italy and found, as I was reading, many (but not all) of the places of which Mayes writes. I also did a search on the net and found numerous web-sites. My big disappointment was that her email address at SFSU had been disconnected...(I live 15 minutes away...) as I so much wanted to convey my thanks for such a simple, yet strangely complex and endearing book. I just started to re-read the book yesterday, 2 days after I first finished it. How many of you can say that about ANY book...? In the inimitable words of Roberto Begnini..."Molto Bene! "
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am 16. Mai 2000
Having read Under the Tuscan Sun (twice), I was rather dismayed to see the unfavorable reviews it received from other patrons. Many lamented the fact that it did not replicate Peter Mayle's "Provence" series. Having read Mayles work after Mayes (in search of a similar commentary on life in a foreign land), I must say I had the very opposite reaction to the two authors. It quickly became clear to me why one author had a prior career as an advertising copywriter (Mayle), and the other as a professor of writing (Mayes). Mayes goes beyond the trite and amusing observation about the land she has adopted that characterizes Mayle's work. She uses her experience in Tuscany to examine her personal relationships and priorities. In the process, she rediscovers her connectivity to the land and an appreciation of simple pleasures. Her use of language is evocative, precise and wonderful. Though it is difficult for the ordinary person to imagine having the time and money to indulge such a mid-life crisis, the open-minded reader should be able to look beyond the circumstances and walk away with something of value. Ultimately Mayes' message is one that we would all do well to learn--slow down and enjoy the everyday process of living.
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