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Under the Tuscan Sun Book Review

I guess I had plans for doing more book reviews than I really did this month, but that's the way life goes.

I thought I'd stick another one in here at the end, just to round things off.

This is a book I picked up out of curiosity. I'd seen the movie and was surprised to see that the book was marked as a memoir. So I spent the $1 the library was asking and immediately fell in love.

Just holding this book in my hands brings a desire to open it's pages.

Frances Mayes is an exceptional writer, the type who can turn something as mundane as remodeling a house into a 280 page experience one is not soon to forget.

She beckons the reader to come into her world of sunny outdoor markets and friendly summer dinner parties.

It reminds me a bit of my own journal, a hodge-podge of thoughts, experiences, ideas, interesting bits of information, magazine clippings, and more. This book contains everything but the clippings.

This is the kind of writing I want to do. I find it difficult to write fiction because it is, generally speaking, used for entertainment purposes and lacks the power to motivate one's life or stir one's soul. I want to write like to stir the soul.

Frances Mayes is that good, in my humble opinion.


Jennifer said…
Started to respond, but it got long. Which made me think I really ought to move it all to my blog, which is suffering from neglect anyway. :) So go over there to see what I think.
Cari Hislop said…
You say...."I find it difficult to write fiction because it is, generally speaking, used for entertainment purposes and lacks the power to motivate one's life or stir one's soul. I want to write like to stir the soul."

Strangely I was talking with another friend about this same subject earlier this evening. She, like you, has found fiction to be fairly uninspiring though she enjoys reading it. I find this really bizarre because all my life I've been inspired by stories and characters. It's true not every book we enjoy will inspire us or change us, but fiction has helped show me who I want to be and who I am. Fiction can be the kindest and cheapest therapist!

Some books that changed me...

The Secret Garden/ The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Anne of Green Gables (the whole series by L. M Montgomery)
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Dwelling Place/ The Black Velvet Gown,by Catherine Cookson
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Lavender Green Magic/ Octagon Magic by Andre Norton
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers
The Age of Reason by Sartre
The Duchess in Disguise by Caroline Courtney
The Maude Reed Tale by Norah Lofts
Robinson Crusoe by Defoe
Jacob have I loved by Katherine Paterson
Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
1984 by George Orwell
Heidi by Johanna Spryi
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CL Lewis
….the list could go on and on…

Yes fiction entertains, but like fairy tales all good stories have layers...all good stories can inspire, teach and reveal who we are to ourselves. A book doesn't have to be serious or even great literature to change us. All it takes is a character that resonates with us as an individual or a story that echoes our own life. Even if we only subconiously understand this...these stories can give hope and determination to dream...they can help us to see the larger picture without having intended to. Just like with fairy tales...we the reader always bring an individual story to the story...which is why books that have changed my life might not change yours...but that's Ok...we're two different people. I love reading non-fiction and there have been any number of biographies that have changed my life, but very few have had as powerful affect as a story.
cannwin said…
Beautifully put Cari. I have to clarify my statement by saying that I immensely enjoy fiction... to read, but I find it hard to write fictional stories because I find them lacking in whatever strong desire it is that drives me to write. Fiction as of yet fails to quench that need in me to write.

However I find discussing non-fictional topics far more fulfilling. I've been thinking a lot about this since I started the post and I've decided that it is a bit inaccurate to say that ALL fiction lacks inspirational ability. There are many, many books that do just that. Many of which I've read, but I can't seem to find my niche, as a writer, in the world of fiction. I am continuously unsatisfied with what I produce on this level. I need to branch out but I have yet to figure out in which direction.

And so I admire writers who can take the simple and create exotic. They do what I would like to do, take my life and create a moving story... or something of that nature.
Cari Hislop said…
It sounds to me like your inner writer craves to write YOUR story!
If I were you I'd focus on having fun writing your story and worry about fiction later down the road when you're in the mood for it.

Having read small snippets of your story...I WANT TO READ IT!!!!!
It will be a beautiful uplifting story!

Everyone writes differently of course, but I often find complete characters walking into my head...sometimes with stories in motion. In every case, they tell their story...not me! I'm like a medium. I posess the characters. I feel their feelings, hear them thinking, talking. I write what they see, smell, feel etc. It's like stepping into an alternative universe...which is just as real as mine. Each character has their own never ending story.

We are all never ending stories!!!!

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