MLA Gold Award Site

Summary and book reviews of Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under The Tuscan Sun

At Home In Italy

by Frances Mayes

Under The Tuscan Sun
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 1996, 280 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 1997, 255 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

In 1990, our first summer here, I bought an oversized blank book with Florentine paper on the cover and blue leather binding. On the first page I wrote ITALY. The book looked as though it should have immortal poetry in it but I began with lists of wildflowers, lists of projects, new words, sketches of tile in Pompeii. I described rooms, trees, bird calls. I added planting advice, "Plant sunflowers when the moon crosses Libra," although I had no clue myself as to when that might be. I wrote about the people we met and the food we cooked. The book became a chronicle of our first four years here. Today it is stuffed with menus, postcards of paintings, a drawing of a floor plan of an abbey, Italian poems, and diagrams of the garden. Because it is thick, I still have room in it for a few more summers. Now the blue book has become Under the Tuscan Sun, a natural outgrowth of my first pleasures here. Restoring then improving the house, transforming an overgrown jungle into its proper function...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
FOR DISCUSSION
  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 ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

USA Today

This beautifully written memoir about taking chances, living in Italy. loving a house and, always, the pleasures of food, would make a perfect gift for a loved one. But it's so delicious, read it first yourself.

The New York Times Book Review

An intense celebration of what [Mayes] calls 'the voluptuousness of Italian life'.

Los Angeles Times

Mayes [has] perfect vision.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Irresistible...a sensuous book for a sensuous countryside.

USA Today

This beautifully written memoir about taking chances, living in Italy. loving a house and, always, the pleasures of food, would make a perfect gift for a loved one. But it's so delicious, read it first yourself.

Booklist

Armchair travel at its most enticing.

Reader Reviews

Ewesfulewe

Very pleasant read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. No, it does not have a plot, and it does not have exciting, sweep you off of your feet type moments. If that is what you are seeking, keep looking. What is does have is an American's view of another country and some...   Read More

Carwin


As I read, I was transported to the warm balcony, overlooking the ancient, lusch, Tuscan country side. It did what a great book is supposed to do. Transport you.

Barbara from Poland

It's truth , this book smeel like a wine and tomato , my favorite ...
And I say "NA ZDROWIE" :-)
basia_sm@interia.pl

Molly

I LOVED this book. I love it because I love the way she changes through her life as she changes and improves the house. I'm fifteen and it is very hard for me to find a book that will fill my mature and intellectual needs and Under The Tuscan Sun ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Under The Tuscan Sun, try these:

  • The Sex Lives of Cannibals jacket

    The Sex Lives of Cannibals

    by J. Maarten Troost

    Published 2004

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The laugh-out-loud true story of a harrowing and hilarious two-year odyssey on the distant South Pacific island nation of Kiribati—possibly The Worst Place on Earth.

  • Paris To The Moon jacket

    Paris To The Moon

    by Adam Gopnik

    Published 2001

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Atomic Weight of Love
    The Atomic Weight of Love
    by Elizabeth Church
    A prologue set in 2011 introduces readers to this novel's unforgettable narrator. Meridian ...
  • Book Jacket: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    by Con Lehane
    It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling...
  • Book Jacket: The Loney
    The Loney
    by Andrew Hurley
    Landscape can be a writer's best friend. Whether it's the mountains of England's lake...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Alaskan Laundry
    by Brendan Jones

    A fresh debut novel about a young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Children

From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary

The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Greek T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.