October 09, 2011

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

Ah, after the first book I was very excited to delve into this one. Only to receive some disappointment. There were some definite changes in style from the first book, but I don't think they were the good kind of changes that they could have been.

Frances Mayes returns to visiting her home Bramasole in Tuscany. For summers, some springs, and Christmas's this is her home away from home. They host friends, visits different villages, and cooks lots of different food while enjoying all that Tuscany has to offer. She and her boyfriend continue their renovations on the house as there is still much work to do and expand the gardens. But overall she tells of the sense of Tuscany and some of the things that can be visited in Italy from castles to churches to museums.

Mayes takes more time to describe the people in this book, but there still isn't a whole lot of development of anyone. The most common figure in her book is her, but she still seems detached even from herself when compared to her writing about every other subject. And while the descriptions of her people are meant to be flattering, to me they just weren't and didn't make them seem like people I would like to know.

The writing seemed to focus more on the travel rather than the house or the food this time. But it was a lot of jumping places without a lot of description or time spent on each place. They were snippets really. I much preferred the long rambling detail of the food in the first novel and while there was food and recipes in this book, there just wasn't as much and it wasn't as charming as in the other. I also kind of missed some of the descriptions of the house, even though they were a bit too much in the first book. There were some nice descriptions to read of Italy and the landscapes and food. It just wasn't as charming this time around.

I'd probably read more by Frances Mayes but I hope that they turn back to the charm of the first book. Read if you really like Italy, but otherwise this probably isn't the best of her works.

Bella Tuscany
Copyright 1999
286 pages

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