Under the (Boring) Tuscan Sun Review
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
by Frances Mayes
Published in 1997
I had never watched the movie, but my mom did and really enjoyed it. I love my mom so if she likes a movie or an author, I always have to look for it and see what about it she enjoyed and see if it is something we will have in common. I found Under the Tuscan Sun buried in Savers under a bunch of other used books (Buy 4 books, get 1 free gets me every time) and I decided to give this book a chance… and I wish I didn’t.
Under the Tuscan Sun is a memoir by Frances Mayes of her home in Tuscany, Italy. Frances and her husband Ed, find a beautiful home in Tuscany that needs a lot of repair work that they immediately fall in love with. After some debate, they decide to purchase the home and detail their time renovating the home while also just enjoying their time living in Italy and getting immersed in the culture around them. They commute between their home in Tuscany and the United States as they work as professors. They often find themselves being in the United States and dreaming of their home in Tuscany and all the delicious cuisine. They learn about how Tuscan cuisine is all about the purity and simplicity of letting the ingredients speak for themselves as well as the opportunity to share with others.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 3/10
This will probably be the shortest review I ever write and it’s because I am honestly just SO MAD AT THIS BOOK!! I thought this book was going to be similar to Eat, Pray, Love in terms of being a memoir of her experiences but still setting it up in a way that is a captivating story for me to follow. By the end of Eat, Pray, Love I was ready to jump on a plane to Italy, India, and Indonesia to get my year-long journey going. Under the Tuscan Sun did NOT have me feeling that way at all. To put in one word what I felt about this book is just: Boring. Even just the fact that I can summarize the book in one paragraph (and honestly I could have shortened it down to one sentence) should say enough of all the things that happened in this book.
I think the only positive for this book is that it truly is beautifully written. Frances Mayes writes about her home and her time in Tuscany in such a creative and almost poetic way that it is clear, page by page, that she feels so passionately about how much she loved living in Tuscany. She details her transition into being integrated in the Italian culture and her experiences cooking and shopping for new items. She’s so deliciously descriptive that you can almost feel the warmth of the sun, the plumpness of the tomatoes, the richness of the olive oil. It is honestly just such a shame that such beautiful writing would be overshadowed by the fact that it feels she has nothing to say!
Under the Tuscan Sun reads as if I am sitting in front of my grandmother hearing about when she moved from Puerto Rico to the United States. It’s entertaining to hear from someone and their experience, but it just doesn’t translate well into a literary piece such as this. I would still recommend this book to others who are interested in learning a little of the culture and cuisine of Tuscany, Italy. But for those looking for a riveting story of someone’s experience in another country, I would honestly put this book down and read Eat, Pray, Love instead. I am overall just so disappointed because I was actually looking forward to reading this book and forcing myself to read each page and each chapter was almost painful. There were even cooking recipes in the book that took up 20 pages worth of the book which to me just felt like some “fluff” to make the book look bigger and didn’t add anything to the story. If I had to read Frances eat another piece of bruschetta, I will have to throw this book out the window.