Ferenc Mate was born in Transylvania, escaped to Hungary, later escaped to Austria, and ended up in America. He has worked as carpenter, boatbuilder, member of a railroad extra-gang, and as a deck-hand on tugboats. His many books include Autumn and A Reasonable Life. He lives with his wife and young son, tending his olives and vineyard, in the hills of Tuscany.
Though born in Hungary, M t‚ (A Reasonable Life) has lived in several countries; in this lighthearted memoir, he recalls the early years he and his artist wife, Candace, spent in Tuscany. The two were certain on their initial visit in 1987 that they wanted to relocate to Italy and buy a home in the Tuscan hills, but it took them a year to return and begin house hunting. M t‚ provides an amusing account of their quest, which was made even more difficult by a lack of facility in the Italian language. After several false starts, they purchased a farmhouse ("La Marinaia") near the small medieval town of Montepulciano and gradually acquired a fluency in Italian as well as a knowledge of how to tend to their fruit trees and vegetable garden. Today, the M t‚s embrace their new life and their neighbors with open hearts, taking part in seasonal community harvests, mushroom hunting and wine making. M t‚ includes evocative descriptions of the beautiful countryside, dotted with ancient ruins, in addition to a wealth of mouthwatering menus featuring Tuscan food and wine. B&w drawings. Author tour. (Nov.)
`After reading this, I feel the glow of those burnt-umber fields, the taste of the wine, the food. more importantly, I feel the generosity of the people. This memoir is an Italophile's dream, the book of a luminous dream come true.' Jay Parini
Tuscany is that magical area of Italy that seems to lie outside the modern world's automation, alienation, and hectic pursuit of wealth. It so enchanted Máté (A Reasonable Life, Norton, 1993) and his wife that they left New York, traveled to Italy, took a month's rental, and searched for their dream house amid the Tuscan hills and olive groves. After much looking, they found the perfect house and signed in the dust on an old tractor. All was negotiated in a mix of languages, the Mátés knowing little Italian. Máté describes an idyllic life of grape picking, mushroom hunting, woodcutting, and neighborhood camaraderie. This memoir is more introspective and less food-focused than Frances Mayes's popular Under the Tuscan Sun (LJ 9/1/96), although no account of life in Tuscany can ignore food. Máté writes with a convincing enthusiasm, especially for the warmth of the people and the simplicity of his new life.‘Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo