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A PLACE IN THE WORLD by Frances Mayes Kirkus Star


Finding the Meaning of Home

by Frances Mayes

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-44333-0
Publisher: Crown

The bestselling author returns with another lush account of family and place.

In her international bestselling book Under the Tuscan Sun, Mayes chronicled the challenges that she and her husband, Ed, encountered while renovating an abandoned Tuscan villa called Bramasole. In her latest exploration of “the meaning of home,” she focuses primarily on her own homes, including Bramasole, her childhood home in the town of Fitzgerald, Georgia, and Chatwood, the house she purchased and remodeled near Hillsborough, North Carolina, a place “with an intense sense of community.” After living in San Francisco for many decades, Mayes decided to return to the South “after a long quarrel with the place,” instigated by “racism, sexist zeitgeist, anti-intellectualism, self-satisfaction. Men who refer to ‘my bride’ after forty years of marriage.” Of course, “those still hover, but [Hillsborough], intolerant of such stupidity, is aspirational.” While living in California, Mayes missed the Southern floral scents of magnolia, gardenia, honeysuckle, and jasmine, and she frequently discusses how foods and accents can signal a feeling of home. Regarding Bramasole, she muses that the hospitality she has experienced at the Italian table is similar to her Southern traditions. Mayes also explores temporary residences that she has occupied, including homes of friends and vacation homes in various locations, including Capri, Provence, and San Miguel de Allende. Despite her feelings of wanderlust, the author asserts that she seeks “home” wherever she travels, and her feelings are “visceral.” When she feels it the most, she revels in “an immediate, illogical bonding.” As she explored in her previous books, she is “always looking for what shapes the people of a particular spot on Earth” and “how the land, history, and climate act to form the people into who they are.” The writing is characteristically intimate, as if she is sharing her thoughts and feelings with a dear friend, and she employs eloquent and detailed descriptions, creating a wonderful sense of place.

A can’t-miss hit for Mayes fans.