Travel and food writer and memoirist Frances Mayes returns to her pre-Under the Tuscan Sun days in new book, Under Magnolia
You probably watched the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, where Diane Lane (as Frances, an American) gets over a painful divorce by starting a new life in a scenic Italian villa with a makeshift adopted family of workmen, neighbors and expatriate friends. Extra points if you read the 1996 memoir of the same name by Frances Mayes. After publishing six volumes of poetry, Mayes found literary success with a series of books documenting her life and explorations in Tuscany.
The author and her husband now split their time between Italy and Hillsborough, N.C., and Mayes keeps plenty busy with other travel and food writing projects as well as her involvement with The Tuscan Sun Festival of the Arts, which she co-founded in 2003. Add fiction writing to that list: Mayes published Swan, her first novel, in 2002. It was set in her home state of Georgia — a location she returns to with her new memoir, Under Magnolia.
Set in the small town of Fitzgerald, Under Magnolia recounts Mayes’ life pre-Tuscany, “from her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies — a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel,” according to a book description. The memoir is called “a searingly honest, humorous and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us or cause us to define ourselves.”
Frances Mayes gives a reading and book signing at Malaprop’s on Friday, April 18, at 7 p.m. Free. malaprops.com — Alli Marshall