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A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller Hardcover – March 14, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Even people who don't normally read travel books are aware of the old Italian villa that Mayes and her husband restored, chronicled in Mayes's bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun and three other books about Tuscany. So it's somewhat surprising when Mayes declares her wanderlust, her passion for other beautiful places in the world. She adores Tuscany, but also loves tasting other people's cuisines, learning their gardening habits, reading their poetry, swimming their waters. She's always looking around and wondering, "How do place and character intertwine? Could I feel at home here? What is home to those around me? Who are they in their homes, those mysterious others?" In this luminous volume, she and her husband visit southern Spain, Portugal, Sicily, southern Italy, Morocco, Greece, Crete, Scotland, Turkey and places in between. Usually they rent an apartment or villa, so they can cook, sprawl and feel like "locals." They survive a couple of package trips (a cruise around the Greek islands, a small charter around Turkey) which only highlight the pleasures of independent travel—having the freedom to wander and discover things for themselves, without a schedule. And happily, there's no mention of prices to mar readers' escapist fantasies. (Mar. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
What Mayes accomplished in her popularization of Tuscany she now extends to a larger stage. Despite the title's claim, she does not reach everywhere on this orb, but she and her husband do manage a slow, deliberate itinerary taking them across much of Western Europe with a brief touchdown in Africa. Commencing with an excursion to Madrid in January, Mayes tours Spain down through Andalusia and the Costa del Sol. Portugal follows. By May, she returns to Italy, not to her beloved Tuscany, but first to Naples and then to Sicily. The couple spends time in Burgundy and Scotland before hopping back to Aegean lands. Wherever she goes, Mayes reflects at length on the cultural, historical, and literary highlights of the lands and peoples she visits. Mayes' touchstone in every locale is the region's cuisine. Her brief inventory of Portuguese soups alone could inspire a reexamination of that nation's cookery. Naples' pizza and cheese, Sicily's seafood, Crete's lamb, and Scotland's shortbread receive Mayes' encomiums. From time to time, Mayes even offers some recipes. Befitting her gifts as a poet, Mayes' prose shines with evocative imagery, bringing life to every subject she encounters across her peripatetic year. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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it was set in one locale. In this true novel, Frances and husband travel across Europe to places they always wanted to visit. I enjoyed the history and the references to literary figures ( and cultural as well) as I was a teacher many years. Not quite a good beach book but a good book to read a litle of every night.
I almost didn't make it through the preface and first chapter of the book. It wasn't quite clear as to why the author and her husband resigned their positions for 'time and freedom.' The journeys in the book were accomplished over a time period of several years, not just in one year as the title would suggest. Perhaps the time was needed to write this book with a lot of superlatives. A random selection of one page includes a 'grandiose exit,' smeared sky, 'gold orb,' and 'miraculous places' in just one paragraph. I don't doubt that the author is a passionate traveller but I'm not sure that she is any more so than most, if not all, of her readers.
We enjoy stretching out our travel pleasure by reading good books about our favorite places. For us that is England and I really enjoyed the chapters on England and Scotland including the author's interest in gardens and gardening. I wished those two chapters were much longer. And, maybe that is part of the reason I was unable to sustain an interest in the book. Since so many areas are covered, there isn't as much information as we'd like on any one of the individual journeys.
For me, A Year in the World is pleasant but not compelling reading.
This book may not be as dense with the qualities that make me read her work so slowly, savoring every phrase, but there is a feast here to enjoy.
Every time I read one of her books I find myself thinking she could be a friend if life had so led. Then I quickly remember that probably everyone feels the same way. lol