Ok, so it's probably no secret that I have loved Frances Mayes and her books for a very very long time.
If, however, you are new to her glorious books, recipes, photos, blog, then by all means let me introduce you. Frances wrote a book years ago called Under the Tuscan Sun. Fabulous book turned into an entertaining (if not entirely true to the story) movie with Diane Lane.
When I feel homesick, I read Under the Tuscan Sun. When I feel lonely, I read Under the Tuscan Sun. When I feel sad, I read Under the Tuscan Sun.
Frances is a writer's writer (she both teaches and writes poetry); she is a researcher; at heart, she is a student of both the natural world and of humanity.
Her prose is vivid. For someone (like me) who used to live in Italy (oh yes, I pushed open the green shutters of my yellow stucco-ed abode daily to see a cultivated valley of olive and lemon trees and grape vines and to fill my nostrils with the scent of jasmine), Under the Tuscan Sun and her other books take me there without the nine hours of travel.
Love her. Love her sweet blog. Love that she's living a scant 20 minutes from my childhood home (she in Hillsborough, my parents still in Durham, NC). Love that she's a Southerner, foodie, adopted Italian. Love that she inspires me to dream, to live simply, to eat fresh, to notice, to write.
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Photo from francesmayesbooks.com