Lifestyle Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, April 2006

A Year in the World by Frances Mayes

Broadway Books, March, 2006
Hardcover, 420 pages
ISBN: 0767910052
Ordering information:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


Eating, Drinking, Overthinking
by Frances Mayes Frances Mayes, who is best known for her Italian house-restoring adventures detailed in Under the Tuscan Sun, presents readers with a different kind of travel book with A Year in the World. The book is really a series of connected essays detailing Mayes and her husband's journeys around the world which took place over five years. The theme of the book, interestingly enough, is home. No matter where Mayes goes, she looks for home. Aside from two less than pleasing package tours, the trips are individual excursions to a particular exotic locale in an attempt to see what it's like to actually live like a local. Generally, she rents a small house or cottage, buys food in the local market and tries to get a sense of the local color. From the Medina in Fez (where her husband gets a horrible case of food poisoning) to Turkey, Greece, Portugal and a lovely little stone house in Crete, Mayes travels the world with a discerning, yet sympathetic, eye.

Her writing is lyrical, and her sly, subtle sense of humor shines through in her descriptions. She muses upon what "home" really means, and about friends past and present. And, as always, she has marvelous descriptions of the local food and wines. With nary a mention of the cost of this mode of travel, readers can vicariously journey along with Mayes and her agreeable husband on their most interesting trek.

--Claire E. White


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