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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Under Magnolia" by Frances Mayes (A Southern Memoir)

SUMMARY :

A lyrical and evocative memoir from Frances Mayes, the Bard of Tuscany, about coming of age in the Deep South and the region’s powerful influence on her life.

The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family.

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—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances’s confidant Willie Bell.

Under Magnolia is 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. With acute sensory language, Mayes relishes the sweetness of the South, the smells and tastes at her family table, the fragrance of her hometown trees, and writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South and into the rest of the world, and then to a profound return home.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Crown Publishing
Pages: 336
Genre:  Non-Fiction/Memoir
Author:  Frances Mayes
Find her:  http://www.francesmayesbooks.com
Purchase this book:  Amazon


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :

In addition to her worldwide bestselling Tuscany memoirs Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany, and Every Day in Tuscany, FRANCES MAYES is the author of the travel memoir, A Year in the World, illustrated books In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home (with Edward Mayes), and The Tuscan Sun Cookbook (also with Edward Mayes). She has published a novel, Swan, set in the South, The Discovery of Poetry: A Guide for Readers and Writers, and five books of poetry. Her books have been translated into more than fifty languages. She divides her time between Tuscany and North Carolina. Visit her at www.francesmayesbooks.com.



THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

It's rare to find a memoir that reads like an adventure novel!  But Frances Mayes has written one.  She is a daunting woman who is world travelled, but who can come home in the most regal and relateable way.  Reading this memoir is like having the most enjoyable of training courses in becoming a Southerner! 

Wonderfully written with anecdotes of her wild and woolly childhood, her growing up years and her coming of age in a home where she wasn't completely neglected but had enough of it to have to learn much by herself, this book is both heart-warming and sad.  There is much here to admire in a mouthy child who is full of spunk and "spit," as we say in the South.  It's obvious where she got the courage to persevere and become one of the best-loved authors of her kind in the world.  Yet, through it all, she has become a great minder of the beautiful things in life.

She really has a way with words and a way of truly "seeing" the world around her.  Her ability to translate that world, even from early childhood is a gift.  Mayes's descriptions of even the smallest details of the South brought me flashbacks of home growing up there myself.  I loved the way she brought it to life again after so many years for me.

Whether you're a fan of Ms Mayes because of her Tuscany or other books, a Southerner yourself, or "wannabe"one, or just a reader who wants to be taken on a trip through a fabulous memoir, this is the book for you.  I highly recommend "Under Magnolia."  It would be a great book group read...lots to discuss here.

5 stars                 Deborah/TheBookishDame

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