Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun

At Home in Italy

Book - 1996
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Random House, Inc.
1. 'What are you growing here?' is the first line of Under the Tuscan Sun. In what ways does that question symbolize how the book came about? What does it say about Frances Mayes's life in Italy, and about her life in general? 2. Mayes writes of the traumatic experience of selling one house and purchasing another on various occasions in the United States. Why is the purchase of her house in Italy so qualitatively different from her other experiences with home ownership? 3. 'The house is a metaphor for the self,' Frances Mayes writes. Discuss some examples of this, both in her life and in your own. 4. What makes Mayes's writing style effective? How does her particular voice make her descriptions come alive? What images did you find to be particularly striking? 5. What are some of the qualities of Italian life that contrast most sharply with American culture? Which aspects of Italian life did Frances and Ed find it important to incorporate into their own lives? Which aspects would you have been drawn to? 6. How does the experience of purchasing and renovating Bramasole impact Frances and Ed's relationship, and how does their interaction affect their shared experience of buying, owning, and living in Bramasole? 7. How does the author change as the book progresses? How are her changes reflected in her tone and in her writing? 8. Mayes's house is called 'Bramasole,' which literally means 'yearning for the sun.' However, soon after she purchases the house, Mayes dreams that its real name is 'Centi Angeli,' or 'one hundred angels.' Discuss the ways in which this proves to be a premonitory dream. What are some of the other discoveries made throughout Bramasole and its grounds that lend a magical feeling to the house? 9. What role does food play, both metaphorically and literally, in the sense of delight that deepens Mayes's relationship to Tuscany and the house itself? 10. Mayes often portrays life in Cortona as timeless. How does she also convey that the timelessness is in many ways just an illusion? How does the 'sense of endless time' affect her household? 11. What is Mayes's philosophy about the friend who speaks disparagingly of contemporary Italy and says it's 'getting to be just like everywhere else--homogenized and Americanized' (p. 110)? How does Mayes's response address globalization in general? 12. Mayes's loving descriptions of food, her recipes, and her gardening tips add sensuality to the book, but what are some of their other functions in Under the Tuscan Sun? 13. What is Mayes's advice to readers who have 'the desire to surprise your own life' (p. 191)? How would you respond to this impulse? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks to the time of life Mayes chose for embarking on a major change? Discuss some of your own turning points and 'forks in the road.' 14. Although Under the Tuscan Sun isn't a novel, would you say that in many ways it reads like one? If so, what is the spring, the inner tension, that propels the book forward and shapes its form? 15. Besides presenting us with wonderful descriptions of food, scenery, and people, what is the other major impetus of Under the Tuscan Sun? 16. As the book draws to a close, Mayes asks rhetorically, 'Doesn't everything reduce in the end to a poetic image--one that encapsulates an entire experience in one stroke?' (p. 256). In your opinion, which image or scene best 'encapsulates the entire experience' of Mayes's time in Italy?
Now in paperback, the #1 San Francisco Chronicle bestseller that is an enchanting and lyrical look at the life, the traditions, and the cuisine of Tuscany, in the spirit of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table.

Baker & Taylor
Applies a poet's sensibility, a traveler's eye, and a cook's palate to the pleasures of the Tuscan countryside, where the author began restoring an abandoned villa.

Baker
& Taylor

The author of Bella Tuscany applies a poet's sensibility, a seasoned traveler's eye, and a cook's palate to the pleasures of the Tuscan countryside, where she began restoring an abandoned villa. Reissue. (A Touchstone Pictures film, written and directed by Audrey Wells, produced by Tom Sternberg, starring Diane Lane) (Travel)

Publisher: San Francisco : Chronicle Books ; New York : Broadway Books, c1996
ISBN: 9780767916066
9780811808422
0811808424
9780767900386
0767900383
0767916069
Branch Call Number: 914.55 MAY
914.55 MAY
Characteristics: 280 p
Alternative Title: Under the Tuscan sun

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q
QnVz
Aug 13, 2018

Deliciously and absolutely in LOVE all over again with words, and writing, and textures!! Only in the first chapter, but already captivated beyond belief. It will be a rough landing to be back in our very green Chapel Hill again when this book is done. ***UPDATE: Began to run long a little over halfway during reading. Beginning is much better than halfway through to the ending.***

s
sashalee123
Jul 02, 2017

Nice account of her adopted home..a bit long winded and repetitive for me.. I saw the movie first..they do not compare, storylines are completely different..

r
RebelBelle13
Aug 03, 2016

It is entirely obvious from the first paragraph you read that Mayes is completely in love with Tuscany, and Italy itself. She loves everything about it-from the food, to the people, to the very land. Reading her novel is like reading someone's diary- seeing their world through rose colored glasses. Her descriptions of everything are so vivid, so colorful, so deep, that I can almost imagine myself in Cortona, and I've never been to Europe. Mayes' writing is romantic and completely immersive, and that's what kept me going. It took me a long time to finish, because I kept having to put it down and come back to it later- simply because I was sick of reading about Italy.
I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I loved cooking like Mayes does. I don't like cooking. I'm not good at it. I see it as a chore. I am more than happy to have someone cook something for me than do it myself. I found that I was skipping the chapters that contained recipes. Perhaps I would also have enjoyed it more had I already visited Italy, and truly loved it.
Mayes is a fabulous writer- but I found that I just wasn't really interested in the topic.
I hardly ever say this, (does anyone, really?) but I liked the movie better. In the movie, Frances is newly divorced, and buys the house in Tuscany on a whim, and is by herself for much of the film. Slowly, she makes friends, learns the language, falls in love and gets her heart broken, and transforms the house. It keeps the soul of the book- so I'd actually recommend that instead.

PoMoLibrary Aug 19, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Nicole: Wow! What a detailed interesting novel about Italy and the very visual story of the family moving there and the renovation of their home.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

An American woman's enchanting account of her love affair with Italy and the home that changes her life. A sunny, mouth-watering memoir and a perfect read for damp grey Vancouver days.

a
alistraka
Aug 06, 2012

Nothing, absolutely NOTHING like the movie - which was rather disappointing since the movie had a fun plot and this book has practically NO plot whatsoever. Well-written, nice to read as fantasy-travel escapism, but there's not much story here. It's more like a journal, as a personal reviewer said.

g
gigglespisano
Sep 14, 2011

I sooo loved this great read and highly recommend it. it was like I was in her place and would actually want to visit the places she wrote about..no kidding!

l
LDPBLM
Jul 28, 2011

Frances Mayes - what a gifted writer ! However , her tack at the end of Tuscan Sun was odd - I preferred "Bella Tuscany " , overall .

Superv Jul 24, 2011

I read the book after I'd seen the movie, and actually for once, thought the movie did a better job. This book is best read as a travel journal than a novel, with a lot of recipes for the reader to follow.

ehbooklover Apr 10, 2011

I really wanted to like this book. The descriptions of the people, scenery, and food of Italy were enough to keep me reading the book but overall I found the author pretentious and condescending. A disappointing read.

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