reading list: Italy

Yay! I finally finished another book!

Under the Tuscan Sun is a movie that I despise, so I was really hesitant to read the book. But the two are not similar at all.

Under the Tuscan Sun 1st (first) edition Text Only: Frances Mayes: Books

The movie is about a woman who had her heart broken so to rebuild her life, she goes on vacation to Italy and buys a run-down villa on impulse. That sounds cool enough, but she’s so whiny and sleeps around in an attempt to get personal validation. At the end of the movie, it seems that she has found happiness within herself and in celebrating the joy of others. If the movie had stopped there, it would have been great. But wait! Here comes a hot young man (seriously, like 20 years her junior) through the gate of her villa – he read something she wrote and published, and was so moved by it that he had to get on a plane and come to her side! The movie ends with them making eyes at each other, so we know this is her new true love. Gag. So much for the theme of “Women can be fulfilled in their own lives, whether or not they’re in a romantic relationship.”

I hate that movie.

The book, on the other hand, is about the villa itself. Frances Mayes and her partner Ed deliberately went to Italy to buy property, looked all over the place until they found an old villa to restore, and then she wrote the book about their adventures of that process. Totally interesting to me, both the process and the beautiful descriptions of the land and the house.

Two things I would have liked differently:

At the beginning of the book, she barely mentions in passing that on their first night in the house, she has a dream about finding 100 angels. I loved that – it made me want to watch the people in my life and find my own 100 angels. But it was never developed as a feature in the narrative, but just got a second passing glance later in the book. I would have liked to have seen that better developed.

The thing I would have liked to have seen less developed, on the other hand, was that the most overused adjective in the book was Etruscan. The Etruscans were apparently the people who developed and built Italy (or at least Tuscany) before the Romans took over. So she was forever finding Etruscan roads, Etruscan buildings, Etruscan shrines. And she never describes what Etruscan actually is – what it looks like, what makes it different from the Roman design … just that it’s really, really old. It got really boring by the end.

The book is better than the movie.

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