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A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  6,233 ratings  ·  482 reviews

A Year in the World is vintage Frances Mayes—a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and of a joyous sense of quest. With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, and to the/>A
Paperback, 420 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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LisaMarie No, it reads more like a long self-indulgent travel journal, mostly about food. I don't think it would serve well as a book club read since there are…moreNo, it reads more like a long self-indulgent travel journal, mostly about food. I don't think it would serve well as a book club read since there are no real plot points or characters to analyze.(less)
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Jun 12, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone really starving for idyllic descriptions of Western European small towns
The author's tone was extremely annoying in this book, whose title is completely misleading, as this is a compilation of her trips mainly to Western Europe over 5 years, not one year in the world at all. Admittedly, I quit halfway through when I got completely fed up with her staying in 5-star hotels and rented villas and eating in gourmet restaurants, without mentioning the price of anything, or how she can possibly afford it as a university writing professor (I guess the profits from the awful ...more
Jan 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
I must confess that I haven't finished reading Frances Mayes' A Year in the World. I love travel books, and read a favorable review of this one...reviewers sometimes exaggerate . After a few running starts, the book wound up in the bathroom. Listening to the tap drip was more interesting, so I've moved it to the side of my bed where I read it whenever I'm suffering from insomnia, which is fairly often.

So I pick up A Year in the World, read it for a few pages of it's eternal present tense where
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
I don't give low reviews lightly. However, there were several problems with this book. 1. It wasn't a year in the world, it was a number of separate trips, most of which weren't too far from the author's residence in Tuscany. 2. Despite the (slight) differences in locales, the things she sought out were very similar, so the book became rather redundant. 3. I don't like the word 'pretentious' except when it fits and in this case it did. Long after reading this book, one scene stuck with me -- a m ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am halfway through the book, the author still hasn't left Southern Europe. I give up. I would prefer more adventure and fewer descriptions of luxury meals.
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was dismal. It read just like a travel log! Though the author was great at painting a picture and beautiful descriptive language, she simply wrote about what she did. The author was also very narrow in her perspective and only talked about her own limited interests (ie. coffee, wine, and gardening), so those looking to read a book about various aspects of different countries will be sorely disappointed.

I was also quite put off by her character. The author comes off as a ric
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A lyrical and enchanting and excellent book about travels in Europe. I was there with the author as she traveled, she is that descriptive and aware of the holy places. Her descriptions of starry nights brought me to my knees in awe as well as her attention to detail: architectural, holy places, holy encounters, books, nature, food! Absolutely gorgeous in scope and detail and love and passion. I want to go to the places she has gone, and rent a house for a while, and travel by private boat, and h ...more
Kathy Beatty
Oct 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: I'm not sure who
I just couldn't read this book. I was bored by the tone of a wealthy person going everywhere and doing anything that she wants without regard to the cost. I couldn't relate at all.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: twenty-ten, travel
Is there a decent travel writer who isn't a pretentious windbag? It's fascinating to me how a woman who has made a career out of traveling to amazing places can be SO DULL. Her disdain for most of the British Isles annoys me. Sorry it's not your gorgeous Italy, but get over it. Also, she called Wales England, which it is not. England is one of my favorite places, and Frances Mayes managed to bore me to death because she wanted to explain the whole country through GARDENS. Ok, maybe gardens are a ...more
Susanna Venable
Apr 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
If you are hoping to pick up this book and be whisked away into a foreign land by way of words, you will be sorely disappointed. I'll admit that I did not come close to finishing this book because I found myself bored to tears by her descriptions of her Italian flavored Ritz-Carlton hotel rooms and run-ins with the "locals" (see below).

I see there is no need to write much more as other reviewers have already expressed my frustration with this author and this book in many better words
Suzanne Fournier
I did enjoy some of the stories and travel insights but I found Mayes rude and judgemental when it came to "tourists" as if she wasn't one. I understand that living in Italy has given her a more local perspective but isn't she still a tourist in Morocco or Turkey? I also don't like Mayes attitude to any person who doesn't have a perfect body or low body mass index, there is no need for asinine comments about the way other people look.
Kelly Driver
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
When I saw this book at the library one day and read the description I thought it would be a perfect book for mine and Tom’s little book club. It was my turn to chose the book and I thought we would both enjoy it.

As I began to read I knew that this travel novel would provide us with a lot of tips and suggestions that we could take with us once we were able to spend A Year In The World.

One passage that really stood out to me was, “The need to travel is a mysterious force.
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
I am thus far disappointed in this book...the author is self righteous and contradictory, and writes annoyingly like someone who just wants to prove how rich and well-read they are.

It starts with her definition of "adventurous traveling" me, staying in 5-star hotels and eating at sit-down fancy restaurants for every meal is a futile way to explore and understand a different land and culture. To truly "get" a different country is to live as much like a temporary local as possible
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished it! A friend recommended the book because we both like to travel and I looked forward to reading it. My friend later confessed she had never read the book cover to cover but only reads sections as she prepares to travel to the area. I debated about purchasing a paperback or Kindle version. I wish I had purchased the Kindle version to take advantage of the dictionary and highlighting capabilities for the passages I would like to refer back to. I think a better title for the boo ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Contrary to the somewhat misleading title, this is not a book about a single year-long travel excursion. Instead, it is a collection of tales of shorter trips, which add up to a year altogether. Most of the destinations covered are not very exotic…Italy, France, England, and the Greek Isles (to name a few), yet the author manages to recount her experiences with such a great deal of charm that it doesn’t matter these are places we’ve read about many times before. She focuses on uncovering the oft ...more
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is a book I read on and off between others. It soothes me when I finish my current batch of library books to know I have a back up read ready to go. It's scary to have nothing to read.

I think I enjoyed this book more than most of the reviewers because I read it in spurts rather than straight through. Towards the last 50 pages I was feeling like "lets finish this thing already". The traveling was intresting but wareing too. Yes, it is nice to travel and stay in homes rather than hotels and
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who likes travel
Recommended to Catherine by: noone
A wonderful trip through Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Scotland and places in between. She really "lives" the culture and gets to know the people by tasting their food, learning their gardening habits, reading their poetry, swimming in their waters, and living in their homes (by renting villas or apartments). She and her husband do endure a few package trips (a cruise through Greece, a small charter around Turkey)which only highlight the pleasures of independent travel. I loved this book and ha ...more
I checked out this audio book from the library on a whim - it came up on a search of keyword France where I am traveling this summer. I listened to the first few chapters, enjoying her travels in Spain and Portugal, then skipped around a little bit looking for the (very brief) part on France. I enjoyed it but didn't finish because I wasn't interested in more food descriptions.
Tamara York
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
I don’t give 1 star reviews often or lightly. I wanted to love this book. I had such high hopes. But it’s truly terrible. It should be called A Few Months Eating My Way Around Western Europe, Buying Boatloads of Knick Knacks, and Long Winded Accounts of Every Artifact I saw in Every Obscure Museum (although that may have been a bit troublesome on the spine). I got to page 320 of 417 and I just can’t make myself finish it. In 300 pages, I still don’t have any sense of character. There isn’t any c ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Read this over the course of a summer trip of my own back to visit husband's family in Idaho and I enjoyed the armchair travel. I especially liked the sections on southern Spain and Portugal because we had recently returned from a visit to the Iberian peninsula. I have read several of Mayes' books and, for the most part, enjoy her writing; I like the way she is able to make personal connections with the places she visits and the way she ponders the meaning of home and how a place met for the fir ...more
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Frances Mayes writing style. It is no secret that I loved Under the Tuscan Sun and this was just as good. She has such a way with worlds. I was able to visualize what she saw and taste what she ate.

See my full review on my blog.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved every second of every page—-except for the few spots where Ms Mayes body shames other tourists or unfairly judges customs/scents of poor locals. Those parts I could’ve done without. Giving it 5 stars nonetheless because I couldn’t put it down and am confident this book will shape the next 20 years of my life (think restoring old houses, writing, world travel—-minus the high horse).
Sep 15, 2019 added it
I thought this would be great to listen to in the car so I got a hold of the audiobook and waited to be whisked away on a journey around the world. I lasted all of one and a half discs.

I hate to add this to my "read" list but I feel I ave to save others from torture that is this audio. Typically an audiobook read by the author is great, they know their story better than anyone and it doesn't come across as a reading. Frances should not be reading aloud. It came across more like a speech to the
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Travel releases spontaneity. You become a godlike creature full of choice, free to visit the stately pleasure domes, make love in the morning, sketch a bell tower, read a history of Byzantinum, stare for one hour at the face of Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna dei fusi. You open, as in childhood, and--for a time--receive this world. There's the visceral aspect, too--the huntress who is free. Free to go, free to return home bringing memories to lay on the hearth." (p xix).

"One of my favor
It seems blasphemous to give a book which has been personally autographed by the author three stars instead of five. Four stars seemed quite possible but considering that I skimmed the last couple of chapters, I'm settling on three.

I did have some of the same complaints about this book as other reviewers such as Mayes and her husband always staying in expensive places and even moving when the places did not meet their high expectations. However, when I thought about it I realized tha
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
First and foremost, Mayes is a poet, and she approaches her subjects with a poet's eye, looking for the magical, the sublime, and the relevance. For some people, this amounts to self-indulgent navelgazing of the worst kind, and it can distance a lay reader from the subject. I see how some readers would feel that Mayes didn't give them the "travel" book they sought. This is *not* a dressed-up Fodor's.

However, I approached reading this book as though I were one of Mayes' acquaintances,
May 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
An Amazon review I wish I'd read before I bought this book summarized my opinion of Mayes' travel writing: the writer criticized the discrepancy between the title and the substance:

"A year spent unmoored -- from home and errands and work and the ties that bind -- would have yielded a very different sort of book from this. These trips -- house rentals, hotel stays, even a cruise -- represent a series of vacations, instead of the year-long quest that the title promises."

Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
After disliking the movie, I was encouraged to read "Under the Tuscan Sun" and loved it. I found "Bella Tuscany" a couple years later and also enjoyed that read, so I had no problem buying "A Year in the World" for my Kindle.

For me, it was worth it. We are travelers and have found every way of traveling imaginable so it was great to see another travelers perspective. I love enjoying the food, coffee, and sites of another country... but I also enjoy the days of sitting in an apartment and wishin
Stacey Peters
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
I have never read any of Ms. Mayes previous books, but I have seen the movie--many, many times when my own wonderust arose. This book was long--too long. Boring and tedious, the author forced me to filter through all her superficial and lackluster descriptions of many of the places I have loved to visit myself. She, herself, a tourist, hated the fact that other people thought as much to visit the same places. There is a lot of foreign words, terms and phrases to get through. She ate so much food ...more
Jun 12, 2011 rated it liked it
A Year in the World is a traveloque. With her home in Tuscany as a home base,Frances Mayes travels to Portugal, England, Scotland, Turkey, Spain, France and southern Italy.

Mayes seems to love the different cultures she encounters. She rents homes and shops in the local markets. She tours the gardens in England and Scotland. She sails along the Turkey coast hiking to archaeological sites. She explores the Greek isles. Mayes provides information about art, architecture, food, and socia
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Being someone who considers herself to be passionate, a traveler and passionate about traveling, I love nothing more than reading about someone else who shares these qualities. I also love someone who, while writing about the sea off the coast of Sardinia, feels it necessary to quote D.H. Lawrence. Bliss, I tell you. Pure, transportational bliss.

I've actually started reading this book again, for the first time. In its original incarnation into my life, this book was a gift to my mother. And in
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Frances Mayes's new book is See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy published by Crown. Her most recent novel is Women in Sunlight, published by Crown and available in paperback in spring 2019. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.

In addition to h
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