When I was in high school my mother left her copy of Under the Tuscan Sun lying around the house. On a whim one Saturday afternoon, I picked it up and started reading. The next thing I knew, I was immersed in Italian culture, fascinated to discover with Mayes the joys (and many frustrations) of making a home out of a house in another country. Under the Tuscan Sun was the first travel memoir I read, and it led to a lifelong love affair with armchair tourism.
Her story is one I have returned to many times over the years (in both Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany), and that first book is now one of the most tattered and well-loved on my shelves. So it was with great excitement that I re-entered her sunny, tasty, and humorous Italian home, Bramasole, in her new book, Every Day in Tuscany.
Unlike Under the Tuscan Sun, Mayes’ new book does not have a cohesive central story. Rather, it is a series of glimpses of a season in Italy, rather like a set of vignettes rather than a linear journal. Each chapter or section is like a snapshot of an event, a location, or a relationship, and is written with a poetic and nostalgic – almost wistful – feeling.
While reading Every Day in Tuscany, you will discover the joys of becoming part of an expatriate community, the wonders of learning how to navigate another culture, and, of course, how to cook the Italian way. Like Under the Tuscan Sun, Every Day in Tuscany features many mouth-watering recipes accompanied by stories that will make you want to move in next door to Mayes, just to smell the cooking scents wafting through her kitchen windows.
Overall, I found this book to be a lovely escape from my own day-to-day life. Mayes’ poetic attention to detail paints a vivid picture that will draw the reader in to walk alongside her through the Italian countryside that has become her home. The wide-eyed wonderment of the foreigner that is so poignant in her first book has given way to a sense of belonging, of being part of the landscape and the people of her Italian home. That, more than anything, is the main sentiment this book evokes: a sense of home.