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Customer Review

88 of 107 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Woman's Struggle Against Bathroom Grout, August 26, 2005
This review is from: Under the Tuscan Sun (Paperback)
I was thoroughly dissatisfied with this novel. Due to extreme stubbornness, I forced myself to finish after several grueling months. After seeing the movie, which I adored, I starting searching for this book expecting it to be even better. The book, however, is not even slightly similar to the movie. The movie chronicled the main characters search for romance. The book, however, is a true story focusing on the restoration of an old Tuscan house Frances Mayes, the author, and her husband purchased. She describes ever step of remodeling her house in painful detail; there was an entire twenty page chapter focusing on the removal and replacement of old linoleum. Do not worry, we are also told in detail about the disposal of the aforesaid linoleum! Several other lengthy chapters were dedicated to Mayes and her husband having a custom made wrought iron gate constructed and installed. Other chapters are dedicated to the reconstruction of a stone wall around their house and, of course, we are told in depth about the various building requirements, tools, workmen, and disposal of any unusable stone. Also, the reader is allowed the thrill of excruciatingly long chapters dedicated to the remodeling of bathrooms and kitchens which, as we all know, is a subject of endless fascination. As if this is not exciting enough, the reader receives lengthy dissertations on the author's shopping trips chronicling everything she bought from bed sheets to silverware. Later, as the excitement builds to a climax, the reader is allowed a exhaustive chapter on her cleaning the floors and windows as well as painting the walls. Often, she would include entire chapters of recipes, which could have been enjoyable if it were included as a bonus at the conclusion of the novel and not an actual part of the story. Therefore, if you enjoy three hundred pages of one woman's struggle against bathroom grout, old linoleum, and bad decorating taste, or, if you are looking for a novel that is faster and more effective than a sleeping pill, then this is the book for you.

- Ravenova
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 22, 2008, 9:13:15 AM PDT
Ravenskya says:
It's rare that the movie is better than the book (I thought "What Dreams may Come" fell into this category as well) I'm glad I read your review because although I don't like romance, I really liked that movie and might have been suckered into the book.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012, 1:59:44 PM PST
Best review title ever!

Posted on Sep 25, 2012, 10:15:54 AM PDT
A. Keffer says:
Novel=work of fiction

Entertaining review, though.

Posted on Oct 17, 2013, 11:30:35 AM PDT
Mary Jane C. says:
Strangely, even though you hated this book, your description of it makes me want to read it! I just love learning the details of renovating, of grocery shopping, of the daily life that makes up our greatest lives. Isn't it interesting that one person's "one star" is another's "five star"? Funny world!

Posted on Jan 11, 2014, 11:32:05 AM PST
This book is not a novel! It is a memoir. Do you know the difference?

Posted on Jun 4, 2014, 11:52:20 PM PDT
Not your kind of book. 'Nuf said.

I, too, am one who enjoys the idea of remodeling/renovating, bringing something tired back to life. Grocery shopping in rural Italy? I'm on it! A memoir with recipes, enjoyable. BTW, as others have said, memoir ≠ novel.

Posted on Mar 31, 2015, 6:52:51 PM PDT
C. WASH says:
Ravenova's sardonic review of this novel made me laugh out loud all the way through. I hope that was her intent. I have read all the readers' remarks about this book and feel certain I know enough about it to forestall the necessity to read it myself. I would like to add my observation that this book may be very useful to others who buy and remodel or restore a residence in Italy. Nothing was said in any review about the author's relationships with workmen. Perhaps she is not so dogmatic in her dealings with them.

Posted on May 16, 2015, 6:22:06 PM PDT
Having bought an old house in need of a lot of work I found Frances Mayes book inspiring, - just the thing I needed to read, and it was so charmingly written... I loved it!
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