Please note all the reviews found on this blog are simply MY OPINION on the books that I read. There are many people out there who will disagree with my assessment of a book and that is fine - read my review - decide for yourself whether or not you want to read the book. If you do read it, by all means comment on my review with your own thoughts on the book!! I was not an english major, I judge the books based on my own taste and opinions, so read them with that in mind! Debate and discussion on the books I read is welcomed and encouraged!!
Got a book you think I'll love? Let me know!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

ISBN: 0-7679-1606-9 Page Count: 299


American writer Frances Mayes purchases an old abandoned villa in Italy and emerses herself in the renovation of her new home and the culture of people and places around her. A memoir of her experiences summering in Tuscany and discovering herself in the process.


I have very mixed feelings about this book. Italy is a country I have always wanted to visit and was very eager to read a book about a woman's experience living there part of each year. I feel a little disappointed now that I have read it. Considering that Frances Mayes is an actual writer and this book is about her life, I found it to be EXTREMELY dull and hard to get through. I am a fairly fast reader and if I am really into a book I can finish a book of this length (and even longer) in under a week. Under the Tuscan Sun took over a MONTH for me to get through. Every now and then I would get to a chapter, or a part of a chapter that was very well written and I felt like I was transported to Tuscany and seeing the Italian scenery through her eyes. However, those rare parts were few and far between longer, duller, harder to follow chapters on a variety of subjects. Switching topics, sometimes within the same sentence, I found it hard to follow her thinking and to see the picture she was trying paint for me because it was so muttled with details that didn't need to be included. Also, I found that she listed things a lot in this book, and intermixed English and Italian names for things, making it very hard to follow. For example, in one chapter she lists all of the churches that she visited, and by the end I have no idea what she was talking about BEFORE she started listing them. Also, occasionally she starts talking about something, which then reminds her of something ELSE from years ago which she then switches to talking about. Then she goes back to what she was originally talking about, but without telling you she was, so you are left wondering how the things are related and where she is going with it.

I don't know, maybe it was just me, and maybe if you are really into memoirs or travel diaries you will really like this book. And it's not that it was BAD, generally speaking it wasn't a BAD book, I just found it very hard to follow, which was disappointing because I was really looking forward to reading it.

Movie tie-in:

As with my other blogs, I have to appologize for not keeping up with this one. I have ready many books since my last posting and I regret not reviewing them. Interestingly enough, the last book I did talk about on my blog was also a memoir that was turned into a movie. I promise you, this is entirely accidental. I think this is actually the first memoir I have read since that one and it just so happens that today is the day I decided to pick up with my blog. What does this have to do with the movie tie-in? Well, just like the last posting, I saw the movie before I read the book, and, just like the last one, I LOVED the movie, not so much so the book. Now the movie I saw for the first time years and years ago when it was in theatres (2003 to be exact, thanks to a quick Google). I think I was still in high school at the time and the thought of reading the book probably didn't cross my mind (if I was even aware there was a book). I can vividly remember seeing the movie though. As I have mentioned, Italy is a place I have ALWAYS wanted to visit and seeing it come alive on the big screen was amazing. This movie was definitely shot to show the best of the countryside and all Italy has to offer. To be honest, after watching the movie I wanted to buy a villa in Tuscany too! (Infact, if I had the money, I probably WOULD). So lets just say I fell in love with Italy even more after seeing this movie.

Now, having read the book, I have come to the conclusion that movies need to better clarify how closely or loosley based they are on the books of the same name so that people are not surpised as I was. The book is NOTHING like the movie. Basically, the movie is about a woman named Frances who buys and restores a villa in Tuscany. ANNDDD that is where the similarities stop. I will admit that every once in a while during reading, I would come across a sentence (not a paragraph or a chapter, but a SENTENCE) that made it's way into the movie but it was a rare sentence indeed and often was taken completely out of context. Mayes herself even comments at the end of the book on a few of the sceens in the movie she mentioned in the book.

I don't know, maybe my expectations are too high when books are made into movies but you would think, ESPECIALLY with a memoir, that the movie would follow the same path as the book did, but not in this case. Like I said, I loved the movie, and unfortunately in this case if the movie more closely followed the actual book I don't think I would have liked it nearly as much as I did. Similarly, if the book was more like the movie it might have sold a few more copies. Just my opinion though. Ironically enough, after re-reading my last review (of Riding in Cars with Boys) my last paragraph is entirely relevant to this review, so as they say, no point in reinventing the wheel!! ->

In this particular instance, it really doesn't matter whether you see the movie first or read the book first because they are so vastly different that they are almost unrecognizable as being based on the same woman. Strange!