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Under the Tuscan Sun

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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  297,310 Ratings  ·  3,296 Reviews
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 viney
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 2nd 1997 by Broadway Books (first published 1996)
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Nouf I.S at the beginning of the movie the water spout was broken and at the end it was fixed although she didn't try to fix it, so in my personal opinion i…moreat the beginning of the movie the water spout was broken and at the end it was fixed although she didn't try to fix it, so in my personal opinion i think it is a metaphor about the problems that faces us in life, and that sometimes we should stop trying to solve these problems, and the problems will go by themselves if we give them time.(less)

Community Reviews

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Ali
Jan 10, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS THE MEANDERING INCOMPLETE THOUGHTS OF A MIDDLE-AGEd WOMAN THAT EATS LIKE A ITALIAN SUMO WRESTLER AND BOUGHT A DISASTER OF A HOUSE THAT NEEDED A HUGE AMOUNT OF REPAIR. THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO THIS BOOK. Perfect if you are practicing speed reading. You could skip every other sentence and still understand that she actually enjoys fixing up this crappy house in Italy. Absolutely nothing like the movie. Disappointing.
Tara
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-shelf
I hear a lot of crap about how this book is silly, fluffy, boring, slow, unstructured, unserious. I've had three people now (all men =p) tell me it's "chicklit." First of all, is that supposed to be an insult? Second: What? Perhaps this all has something to do with how popular the book was and continues to be. Regardless, don't let the naysayers dissuade you from giving it a try.

The writing is poetically beautiful, illuminating a place that is equally so. Plenty of "place writing" does a disser
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SJ
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish it. And, frankly, that's not like me at all. The book is well reviewed, and well written. And yet, somehow, I just really didn't like it. The author can truly write, and the topics were of great interest to me, but I felt the entire time like she was untouchable. She was encased in her own experience and at no point did I feel welcomed or able to understand her. Her life path never really found a commonality with my own, nor did she make me love her. In the end, I did myself the ...more
Leftbanker
Sep 29, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: fanny pack owners
Shelves: travel
I need to preface this by saying that had this book been anything less than a monster success I wouldn't trash it. But for the life of me I can't see why it's so popular. What if she had written about remodeling a house in North Dakota? Would that be interesting? Of course not, so why are the tedious details of doing the same in Italy any different? This book has about as much to do with Italy as it does with North Dakota. The movie is even worse if that is possible.

I had some friends come to vi
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Amanda
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: untumbled-turds, blog
At 66 pages in, I'm throwing in the towel.

Somewhere around the age of 22 or 23, I decided I was done with library books. Now, don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate libraries. I became a reader because of access to wonderful libraries. But, as an adult, I'm OCD enough not to enjoy the concept of library books. Wondering how many people read them while on the toilet, encountering books that smelled like ash trays, finding potato chip crumbs wedged between pages 32 and 33, encountering a sticky
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Laura C.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“ It’s not fair that some people get to live like this!” she said, throwing the book down on her unwashed, non- authentic linoleum floor. “ A wonderful companion that willing does chores, looks good without his shirt, never argues, likes to travel; cash to buy and then renovate a villa in Tuscany where you live every summer and at Christmas and bottle your own olive oil from your own trees; have tons of flowers, fruit trees and terraces with lounge chairs; find Etruscan stones in your back yard; ...more
Deb
Dec 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Wanting to learn about all things Italian was the reason I picked this book. I started it as an audio book. But even as a listen while being a prisoner on the highway, I had to stop after the first CD. Her out of touch with reality pinings about her problems encountered when buying a home in Italy (who in the world can afford this in the first place!) grated. Hearing that one of the primary joys of her Italy travels was buying shoes, was a major clue that this was not a book for me. Then when sh ...more
Connie
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Frances Mayes bought a neglected villa in the Tuscan town of Cortona. The house was called "Bramasole", meaning "yearning for the sun", and the sunshine and warmth of Italy comes shining through Mayes' enthusiastic descriptions.

One gets a sense that Mayes is being reborn. After a midlife divorce, she is in a relationship with her future husband, Ed. The two poets both have demanding jobs as the heads of creative writing departments in their California universities. Both worked hard, along with I
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Heather Vance
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about this story when the film version was being hyped. For some reason I never bothered to view it, perhaps because it appeared amidst other seemingly trite films that did not interest me. However I found this copy in the used library bookstore and from the inside cover description I realized that it's subject matter greatly interested me. Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, At Home in Italy is her personal account of a life shifting and settling in the landscape of the Italian c ...more
Samantha
While i thoroughly enjoyed the book, i WILL say that its not what i expected since i had seen and enjoyed the movie first. most of the story is completely different than the movie.....but what bothered me is that there was no real story plot here besides the fixing up of the house over time. as she fixes the house, she fixes her life, and in the end "turns italian" and finds where she belongs (not that she seemed out of place at the beginning). I guess i was slightly disappointed in 2 things: 1) ...more
Kay
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, 2013
The movie made her far more interesting than the book did.

Movie version: her best friend is a lesbian and they send Mayes on a gay tour of Tuscany since the friend's wife doesn't want her to travel in the first trimester. The trip is to help Mayes recover from the divorce. She falls in love with the country, finding magic in unexpected places and buys a villa. In restoring it, she learns to love herself again, as she learns Italian ways of living.

Book version: straight lady buys house with hus
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Donna
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, memoir
This was a re-read, and I loved it again. I know there's plenty here who
don't think much of this book, but it totally appeals to my utterly romantic
notions of running away to live in Europe someday....sigh.... ;-) Haven't
been to Italy yet, but this book *was* largely responsible for my subsequent
trips to France, Spain, and Turkey. And my list (TBV list - "to be
visited" - tee hee) has been growing ever since.

This was also my first PalmPilot read, and I was pleasantly surprised to
find that I compl
...more
Ryan
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Plot: Author summers in Tuscany, buys an old farmhouse, refurbishes it, travels through Italy, and cooks constantly.

Review: Open up a "Sunset" or a "National Geographic Traveler" magazine, and imagine reading a beautifully descriptive & evocative 6-page essay on what it's like to live & work & cook in Italy. Then, when you finish it, flip the pages back and start the article again. But substitute the Zuppa Toscana with Porcini Risotto. The Pesto Crostini for the Fontina Bruschetta. A
...more
Antof9
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2005-read, la-cocina
I saw the movie first and didn't realize it was based on a book.

So first of all, this is not a novel. It's a woman's journal of the purchase and clean up of an old house in Tuscany. It includes recipes, gardening directions, weather reports, menus, etc. And if that's what you were expecting, it's actually very good. However, I unfortunately saw the movie when it came out, in complete ignorance that it was a book first.

And. . . I'm still confused about how *this* book got made into *that* movie.
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mossum
Feb 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: tried-to-read
I so rarely stop reading mid-book, but I found this one to be so rambling and uninteresting and I'm at a point in life where I feel no obligation to push through such an experience, even (or especially) to please someone who thought for sure they knew what I'd like.

The prospect of buying a shambles of a house, no matter where, and restoring it, is a subject that is of tremendous interest to me. Although I'm not "traveled," I can well image that the effort of obtaining a passport, packing, and f
...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
Having read Under the Tuscan Sun, I can certainly see what the hype was about. It is an interesting little book, not a novel exactly, more a sort of a diary of a divorced woman who decided to buy a house in Tuscany and documents her experiences. Her narrative voice is friendly and charming, and yet despite revealing some information about her private life, she never lets the reader in too close. Under the Tuscan Sun is not an autobiographical novel, so don't expect someone pouring their heart op ...more
Tamara
Apr 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Tamara by: Conifer book friends, I think?
CRAP CRAP CRAP...HATED IT!!! This is the epitome of nauseating travelogues. This woman thinks she is Italian because she renovated and lived in a small property in Tuscany??? And she is clearly so much smarter, knows better, and has more experience in everything (not JUST renovating and living in a small house in Tuscany) than anyone else on earth because she renovated and lived in a small house in Tuscany. Blech.
Aisling
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think I'm being a little harsh by giving this only 4 stars...it certainly has the qualities of a 5 star book; great writing, interesting events, a plot that works. But it really was too disjointed with recipes and philosophy and personal reflections and building/buying anecdotes. Mayes style works well with the bulk of the book but there are too many wandering offs to make it a true 5 star book. It just did not hang together. I really enjoyed it, though. I just had to pick it up and put it dow ...more
Marjorie
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Edit: I mentioned in my review that the author paid $1,000,000 for this abandoned villa because she said in the book that she wrote "milione" at the closing so many times. But Ms. Mayes sent me a tweet questioning where I got that price and that it was a fifth of that or $200,000. That was when I realized that I hadn't converted the milione that she mentioned from lire to dollars! It was her entire savings from her marriage that she put into this home. Plus they did a lot of the work themselves. ...more
Rob
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'd never heard of this book until the autumn of 1999, a few days after I arrived in Cortona, the town/subject of this book. Every time I turned around, all these baby boomers were asking me if I knew where Francis Mayes lived. I had know idea who she was. I soon learned, however, that she was the author of this very book, which was about her experience rehabbing a home on the other side of the hill from Cortona.

My experience in Cortona was life changing. When I returned to the states, I was sa
...more
Tarah
Oct 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Here's the thing. I loved this book when I first read it (was I 20? maybe 22...). Because I was young, and hadn't learned how to resent those people who gallivant around the globe with too much money on their hands telling us how charmed their lives are while describing the picturesque landscape. That being said, the book is well-written and the descriptions of Tuscan life are, of course, deeply seductive. Because that's the point: a life where you worry whether your wrought-iron gate is cast in ...more
Sophia
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A chance to journey along looking over a person's shoulder as they go from summer holiday tripper in Tuscany to owning an old Tuscan farmhouse needing a vast deal of TLC was an intriguing prospect.

I had seen the movie adaption of this book, but the movie is only one small facet of all that is covered in gently-paced slightly distant reflections on a years' long labor of love and life. This book reads like a blend of journal-scrapbook-ideas-memorabilia-organizer all wrapped in one. And that's pre
...more
GoldGato
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
...for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
- RILKE


I was at an airport.
I needed a book.
It was the 1990s (no e-books).
Another cross-country business trip.
This was it.

The Tuscan sun has warmed me to the marrow.

I read the whole thing from cover-to-cover on that journey. Maybe it was the writing, maybe it was the locale, maybe it was because I was leaving sun and flying into snow, but I really enjoyed this book. Frances Mayes had me turning pages to discover the
...more
Kasia
Yawn.

Half of this is recipes. Under the Tuscan Sun is fairly known and well reviewed... I didn't realize cookbook, sort of.
The other half was a real estate guide, and a renovation guide, and then a tour guide of Tuscany. I mean, really?
All this intertwined with sappy statments in the fashion of Eat Pray Love. Yuck.

It was well written all right, and I can see the appeal for some people. For me, when I want a recipe, I'll reach for an actual cookbook, thank you. Mark Bittman, anyone? Tuscany?
...more
Bam
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am surprised by how many bad reviews this book has received here on goodreads. Yes, the movie version is very loosely based on this book, so don't come looking for that story. And yes, it is a memoir and not a novel. And yes, Mayes is a privileged woman who has the earned the ability to buy a decrepit villa in Tuscany as a second home, renovate it and furnish it. So? Who hasn't dreamed of doing just that? I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of the renovation process, the land, the people, th ...more
Cinco
Jul 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: travel, nonfiction
I love travel writing and was really looking forward to reading this book. Sadly for me, about a third of the way through I realized that I wasn't reading a book about Italy or travel, I was reading a very long, very dry book about home improvement that just happened to take place in Tuscany.
Di'ana
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Gyvenimiška avantiūra. Italija. Toskana. Dar tiksliau tai Kortona. Tikra istorija apie tai, kai nepaisant nieko žmona ir vyras ryžtasi nusipirkti namą Italijoje. Po ilgų dvejonių beveik alkai įsigyja namą, kurį jau buvo nusižiūrėję, ir pasineria į žemiškus nuotykius jį renovuojant. Susipažinimas su itališku gyvenimu, kultūra bei palengva priimama itališka pasaulėžiūra, priprantama neskubėti, mėgautis akimirka. Kaip ir išmoksta tai, ko net negalvojo, kad kada nors darytis. Italija kvepianti knyga ...more
Emma Iadanza
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Before I started this book, I read some of the other reviews on Goodreads, and I really must say. I agree. I didn't want to agree at first, but now I do.

Let me say. I did not love this book. I did not despise it. But I simply disliked it it. A lot. I really wanted to like it, but I can't.

Basically, this woman and her husband/boyfriend(?) buy a house in Tuscany after wanting to and not wanting to and wanting to and not wanting to and really wanting to but having a lot of other things discourage
...more
Davis Aujourd'hui
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspirational book written by a woman who is going through a transition in her life. While visiting Tuscany, she decides to take a leap of faith and to begin a brand new life. Even though she can't afford the home which she wants to buy, the owner realizes that how much the author values the home and that it should be hers. Consequently the owner accepts the author's modest offer. That was spiritual! I especially appreciated this aspect since I am the author of a spiritually-themed bo ...more
Irene
Jan 09, 2009 rated it liked it
If you eagerly await your friend’s vacation pictures, are absorbed in every detail of their adventures, than you may find this book a sheer delight. But, if your eyes glaze over and your mind wanders after the tenth picture and the tenth story, then you may be less engrossed by this book. Frances and her husband who both teach at California colleges, purchase an old Tuscan farm house and small olive grove. Every summer and Christmas semester break they spend remodeling the house, restoring the 5 ...more
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1,180 followers
Frances Mayes's new novel is Women in Sunlight, published by Crown. 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 her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the memoirs Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir; A Yea
...more

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“Life offers you a thousand chances... all you have to do is take one.” 180 likes
“Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave.” 68 likes
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