A Year in the World is vintage Frances Mayes, a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and of a joyous sense of quest. An ideal travel companion, Frances Mayes brings to the page the curiosity of an intrepid explorer, remarkable insights into the wonder of the everyday, and a compelling narrative style that entertains as it informs.
With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, and to the Mediterranean world of Turkey, Greece, the South of Italy, and North Africa. In Andalucia, she relishes the intersection of cultures. She cooks in Portugal, gathers ideas in the gardens of England and Scotland, takes a literary pilgrimage to Burgundy, discovers an ideal place to live in Mantova, and explores the essential Moroccan city of Fez. She rents houses among ordinary residents, shops at neighborhood markets, wanders the back streets, and everywhere contemplates the concept of home. While in Greece, she follows the classic Homeric voyage across the Aegean, lives in a bougainvillea-draped stone house in Crete, and then drives deep into the Mani. In Turkey with friends, she sails the ancient coast, hiking to archaeological sites and snorkeling over sunken Byzantine towns.
Weaving together personal perceptions and informed commentary on art, architecture, history, landscape, and social and culinary traditions of each area, Mayes brings the immediacy of life in her temporary homes to the reader. An illuminating and passionate audiobook that will be savored by all who loved Under the Tuscan Sun, A Year in the World is travel writing at its peak.
©2006 Frances Mayes; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"Mayes' prose shines with evocative imagery, bringing life to every subject she encounters across her peripatetic year." (Booklist)
Overall, this book is quite a nice way to escape to Italy, Spain, Portugal, UK, Morocco, etc. for a few hours. The narrator is good -- immeasurably better than the author (who narrates her other books - disasterously). The prose is simple and the author does a good job of illustrating scenes in lovely places, with the occasional and very awkward attempt to insert something "deep" or personal that just ends up sounding off. Overall a nice, light listen -- probably better than reading the book.
Having enjoyed Under the Tuscan Sun - and being a passionate traveler myself - I looked forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, it is so poor that I gave up halfway through - a rare occurrence. At its best, Mayes's writing can be lyrical and seductive, and there are flashes of that here. But there are also flashes of turgid, self-important, and precious prose. Most of it is just boring. I also realized partway through that there is virtually NO humor in this book.
For travel writing from now on, I'll stick with Bryson or Troost or Rob Gifford.
I should have listened to the other reviewers but I was so excited to have a nice long travel book to be immersed in. Well, 4 chapters in I feel I'm drowning in never ending – albeit beautiful – travel rants. There seems to be no flow of start & finish to each chapter/story, just on and on and on. It *is* a beautiful book though.
I was so very disappointed in this book. It's a rambling, non-original and not well presented. It plods along in a manner that defies holding the interest of the reader. I read (heard) one of Frances Mays short stories about overseas travel and it was excellent - but it was a single short story and perhaps she should stick to that genre where there is a clear destination for the narrative (or even a focused snapshot). The content is weak - I do not know how this was published. I agree with a prior reviewer - someone should stop this - I know I will never buy another of her books/stories and I LOVE travel books but this does not qualify as a narrative that leaves the reader with insights of the places traveled, The focus clearly on the writer not the subject.
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