A semi-expat who splits her time between Northern California and Tuscany, author Frances Mayes literally wrote the book on picking up and moving to Italy. Her 1996 New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun set the bar for European self-discovery memoirs and was adapted for a Diane Lane vehicle. Mayes has written a few more books about Italy since her first success, and this time she's back with Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life (Broadway Books; $25).
Every Day in Tuscany focuses on the day-to-day pleasures of Maye's life abroad and reflects on the ways her life has changed since her original decision to restore a traditional Cortera villa 20 years ago. As in her previous writings, Mayes intermingles recipes with her narrative, exploring her expanding adoptive Italian identity through food. But while Mayes' previous books have been driven by her grand search for self-knowledge, Every Day in Tuscany is far more grounded and her calm self-awareness is compelling in its own way. Mayes embraces her inner Italian with less frantic soul-searching and more emphasis on simple pleasures of Italian country life, from duck breast with artichoke to Renaissance art to the joys of garden dining.
Mayes hosts an evening meal dedicated to Every Day in Tuscany in conjunction with Book Passage on Tuesday, March 23, at the Left Bank Restaurant. 507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur. 6:30pm. $125; includes meal, wine, tax, tip and signed copy of the book. 415.927.3331.
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