Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My first "Incomplete"

Title: Under the Tuscan Sun
Author: Frances Mayes
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir/Travelogue
Date Started: August 28, 2009
Date Finished: DIDN'T!

Rating: Incomplete

Description from Barnes & Noble: In the spirit of Peter Mayle's bestselling memoir A Year in Provence, gourmet and poet Frances Mayes chronicles her experience of buying, restoring, and residing in an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside. In rich, golden prose, Mayes details the long summer days spent working in the garden, excursions to the nearby towns and markets, and joyful interactions with the local people. Mayes lets armchair travelers share the joy of living in Italy through her wonderful memoir.

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I love reading memoirs, especially memoirs involving travel (Ruth Reichl's memoirs are amazing), but I'm sorry; I just couldn't finish this. And I've been reading it since August! I grabbed this book thinking it would be a good read while I was waiting for my plane to Florida. Worst choice ever. The book was so boring, I couldn't keep my eyes open. Just writing about this book and remembering it, is making me tired.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this book is that it's nothing like the movie. I know that sounds awful, but sometimes the stuff Hollywood adds to movie-versions of a book actually improve the story. In this case, Hollywood took the basic idea: woman buys house in Tuscany (although in the book, it was both Frances and her second husband who buy and renovate it together), keeps a few details from the book that were interesting, and made a whole new story around those. Frances bought the house with her second husband Ed; the Polish workers who make up a big part of the comedic element in the movie are only in the book for one chapter; there is no romantic anything in the book. Not with Frances or her neighbors or the Polish workers. Nothing. And since I didn't finish the book, I have no idea if the gay best friend even exists or if she's entirely a Hollywood fabrication.

Most of the book was made up of renovating details, and some side trips to the neighboring cities and towns. One chapter in particular was maddening. I think if I had to read that they found another hidden well one more time, I was going to chuck the book down one. If you're into books about home renovations and endless details about the roads in Italy, then this is the book for you. If you're expecting something close to the movie, don't even bother trying to read this. Incomplete

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