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My Challenges (perpetual)

100 SHOTS OF SHORT
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CHECKIN’ OFF THE CHEKHOV
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THE COMPLETE BOOKER
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MARTEL-HARPER CHALLENGE
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MODERN LIBRARY'S 100 BEST NOVELS

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TAMMY'S BEYOND BOOKS CHALLENGE

New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

Title: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy

Author: Frances Mayes

First Published: 1999

No. of Pages: 286

Synopsis (from B&N): "In this follow-up to her bestselling account of her love affair with Tuscany, Mayes carries forward the concerns and people of Under the Tuscan Sun, while exploring new themes: gardening, travel throughout Italy, deepening friendships with Italians, and primavera, a new season. Interweaving sections on language, art, food, and wine with her journeys in Italy, this [book] captures what Mayes has called 'the voluptuousness of Italian life' in the lyrical, sensuous style that distinguishes her previous work."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: I'm a very down-to-earth type of person, very literal and rational-minded, so this book is a departure from the style I'm normally drawn to. The author's style is very ephemeral, almost artistic in its way, giving you the sound and smell of the surroundings instead of the more literal descriptions you often find in travel books. An example:

"The road from Cortona to Montepulciano, one of my favorites, levels from terraced olive groves to luxive, undulating hills, brilliant with golden wheels of wheat in summer, and now in spring, bright green with cover crops and long grasses. I can almost see the July fields in bloom with girasoli, giant sunflowers, the hallelujah chorus of crops."

I can see Van Gogh and Monet in my mind's eye when I read scenes like that. Another difference between this and other travel books is that this author is so much more literary, quoting poetry and referencing books that I've never heard of (which doesn't do much for my self-image as a bibliophile, I must say). This is to be expected since she is a poet and the chair of the creative writing department at an American university, but it does make for a different reading experience. I like the way this book is different and hope to read more by this author in the future.

Challenges: 999 ("Travel")

1 comments:

N.Vasillis said...

Good luck on the read-a-thon tomorrow. I'll be cheering you on.