After the best-selling Under a Tuscan Sun.
Frances Mayes' books on Tuscany are occupational hazards. They lure the reader into `throwing it all in' for a new life in rural Italy. If you just managed to resist this temptation in Under the Tuscan Sun, Mayes' sequel, Bella Tuscany, will test your resolve. It is wonderful to reunite with Mayes and Ed (both on their six-month sabbatical) in their Tuscan villa in Cortona, where the water pump is still not working and where `everyday life is still radically particular' - and remarkable. Mayes is still openly in love with the `sweet joy' of this life and her enthusiasm is contagious. The reader shares in Mayes' love affair with `bella Tuscany's' countryside of wildflowers and distant castles; the local food (Mayes' descriptions of Sicilian pastries and even the wild boar are wonderfully evocative); the frescoes and markets; the Armani suits and espressos; and of course the `locals' - real people with unreal quirks. Mayes' alert mind means that she is refreshingly passionate about everything - from finding the perfect terracotta pot to working out the meaning of life. In Bella Tuscany, Mayes certainly achieves her aim of being totally consumed by life, whilst also being totally consuming as an author. Michelle Atkins is contracts and copyright coordinator/primary editor at Nelson ITP. C. 1999 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors