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A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF UNDER MAGNOLIA A Year in the World is vintage Frances Mayes—a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and of a joyous sense of quest. With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF UNDER MAGNOLIA A Year in the World is vintage Frances Mayes—a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and of a joyous sense of quest. With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, and to the Mediterranean world of Turkey, Greece, the South of Italy, and North Africa. Weaving together personal perceptions and informed commentary on art, architecture, history, landscape, and social and culinary traditions, Mayes brings the immediacy of life in her temporary homes to readers. An illuminating and passionate book that will be savored by all who loved Under the Tuscan Sun, A Year in the World is travel writing at its peak.


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A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF UNDER MAGNOLIA A Year in the World is vintage Frances Mayes—a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and of a joyous sense of quest. With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF UNDER MAGNOLIA A Year in the World is vintage Frances Mayes—a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and of a joyous sense of quest. With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, and to the Mediterranean world of Turkey, Greece, the South of Italy, and North Africa. Weaving together personal perceptions and informed commentary on art, architecture, history, landscape, and social and culinary traditions, Mayes brings the immediacy of life in her temporary homes to readers. An illuminating and passionate book that will be savored by all who loved Under the Tuscan Sun, A Year in the World is travel writing at its peak.

30 review for A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller

  1. 4 out of 5

    Agnes

    The author's tone was extremely annoying in this book, whose title is completely misleading, as this is a compilation of her trips mainly to Western Europe over 5 years, not one year in the world at all. Admittedly, I quit halfway through when I got completely fed up with her staying in 5-star hotels and rented villas and eating in gourmet restaurants, without mentioning the price of anything, or how she can possibly afford it as a university writing professor (I guess the profits from the awful The author's tone was extremely annoying in this book, whose title is completely misleading, as this is a compilation of her trips mainly to Western Europe over 5 years, not one year in the world at all. Admittedly, I quit halfway through when I got completely fed up with her staying in 5-star hotels and rented villas and eating in gourmet restaurants, without mentioning the price of anything, or how she can possibly afford it as a university writing professor (I guess the profits from the awful movie made from one of her previous books probably help). Too bad, as some of the historical asides and food descriptions are great.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I must confess that I haven't finished reading Frances Mayes' A Year in the World. I love travel books, and read a favorable review of this one...reviewers sometimes exaggerate . After a few running starts, the book wound up in the bathroom. Listening to the tap drip was more interesting, so I've moved it to the side of my bed where I read it whenever I'm suffering from insomnia, which is fairly often. So I pick up A Year in the World, read it for a few pages of it's eternal present tense where I must confess that I haven't finished reading Frances Mayes' A Year in the World. I love travel books, and read a favorable review of this one...reviewers sometimes exaggerate . After a few running starts, the book wound up in the bathroom. Listening to the tap drip was more interesting, so I've moved it to the side of my bed where I read it whenever I'm suffering from insomnia, which is fairly often. So I pick up A Year in the World, read it for a few pages of it's eternal present tense where Mayes layers on eye-glazing fact after fact about the local history, art, cuisine, or whatever where ever she and poor Ed might find themselves. Her observations spark memories where we're dragged along as she wonders about her future grandchildren and other trivia. At this point, I'm on page 80. So as a travel book, this is a lousy read. On the other hand, if you can't get to sleep, it's better than a prescription for melatonin. Bring it along on your next transatlantic flight and you'll awaken refreshed, if a bit bored by your mauve dreams.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marshall

    I don't give low reviews lightly. However, there were several problems with this book. 1. It wasn't a year in the world, it was a number of separate trips, most of which weren't too far from the author's residence in Tuscany. 2. Despite the (slight) differences in locales, the things she sought out were very similar, so the book became rather redundant. 3. I don't like the word 'pretentious' except when it fits and in this case it did. Long after reading this book, one scene stuck with me -- a m I don't give low reviews lightly. However, there were several problems with this book. 1. It wasn't a year in the world, it was a number of separate trips, most of which weren't too far from the author's residence in Tuscany. 2. Despite the (slight) differences in locales, the things she sought out were very similar, so the book became rather redundant. 3. I don't like the word 'pretentious' except when it fits and in this case it did. Long after reading this book, one scene stuck with me -- a moment of horror upon arriving in a hotel room and finding it not the quaintly upscale auberge it was cracked up to be, but... *gasp*... ordinary. Mayes is a gifted writer, and I am happy for her success. But for a writer of her talents, a slapped-together book such as this comes across as nothing but a crass generator of royalty checks. Read and savor Under the Tuscan Sun, which really was something special when it was published and which still seems relevant, if not quite as magical as it was then. But give this one a miss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol Fillmore

    I have finished as much of this book as I want to read. It is so boring, just so much writing about what she and her husband ate! Initially, I had hope for this book, wanted to travel through Europe and see it through her eyes. When I read so many reviews that rated this book as poor, it seemed like the people were being unusually harsh. By the time I got a quarter of the way into this book, it was evident they were right on. I will give credit to the author for her beautiful writing. The beauti I have finished as much of this book as I want to read. It is so boring, just so much writing about what she and her husband ate! Initially, I had hope for this book, wanted to travel through Europe and see it through her eyes. When I read so many reviews that rated this book as poor, it seemed like the people were being unusually harsh. By the time I got a quarter of the way into this book, it was evident they were right on. I will give credit to the author for her beautiful writing. The beautiful writing is not enough to make up for the non-stop food descriptions: ``A Year in the World`` reads more like a series of food blogs.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    I am halfway through the book, the author still hasn't left Southern Europe. I give up. I would prefer more adventure and fewer descriptions of luxury meals.

  6. 5 out of 5

    JoAnne

    This book was dismal. It read just like a travel log! Though the author was great at painting a picture and beautiful descriptive language, she simply wrote about what she did. The author was also very narrow in her perspective and only talked about her own limited interests (ie. coffee, wine, and gardening), so those looking to read a book about various aspects of different countries will be sorely disappointed. I was also quite put off by her character. The author comes off as a rich better-tha This book was dismal. It read just like a travel log! Though the author was great at painting a picture and beautiful descriptive language, she simply wrote about what she did. The author was also very narrow in her perspective and only talked about her own limited interests (ie. coffee, wine, and gardening), so those looking to read a book about various aspects of different countries will be sorely disappointed. I was also quite put off by her character. The author comes off as a rich better-than-thou individual (snob!) who looks down on others. She was appalled by tourists in general, and considered herself on a higher plane than travelers who were probably no different from herself. I was specifically extremely offended by her maliciously insulting descriptions of fellow passengers on a cruise ship in Greece. She went off about how horrifyingly fat and ugly the people were. Little does she realize this cruelty conveys more about herself than those she is insulting. The only redeeming traits were the brief moments of bliss I had while reading about details of Spain, Turkey, and Scotland. It indeed made me want to travel more...just not with her!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A lyrical and enchanting and excellent book about travels in Europe. I was there with the author as she traveled, she is that descriptive and aware of the holy places. Her descriptions of starry nights brought me to my knees in awe as well as her attention to detail: architectural, holy places, holy encounters, books, nature, food! Absolutely gorgeous in scope and detail and love and passion. I want to go to the places she has gone, and rent a house for a while, and travel by private boat, and h A lyrical and enchanting and excellent book about travels in Europe. I was there with the author as she traveled, she is that descriptive and aware of the holy places. Her descriptions of starry nights brought me to my knees in awe as well as her attention to detail: architectural, holy places, holy encounters, books, nature, food! Absolutely gorgeous in scope and detail and love and passion. I want to go to the places she has gone, and rent a house for a while, and travel by private boat, and have a travel companion like her husband. She “presents a simpler, less frantic version of how to live one’s life.” Yes, resoundingly and inspiringly. I will love this book forever. It was one of my bookclub selections and I had so much fun planning the dinner and we did a little guessing game with imported european prizes I got from CostPlus World Market... Spain “I’m going to places where I have dreamed of living and will try to settle down in each, read the literature, look at the gardens, shop for what’s in season, try to feel at home.” - a holy approach to writing - seeing the people harvest oranges along streets for perfumes and soap -knew sevilla instinctively -duende- summoning of the life force spirit and the expression of that spirit “the impulse to create beauty where you draw water, where you stow your saffron, where you walk, that impulse is intrinsic to life, as it ever has been and will be, and from this place where such remains are gathered, we can only exit with a sense of renewal and joy.” “He couldn’t understand a world shameless and cruel enough to divide its people by color when color is in fact the sign of God’s artistic genius.” About Lorca "One of the flash epiphanies of travel, the realization that worlds you’d love vibrantly exist outside your ignorance of them. The vitality of many lives you know nothing about. The breeze lifting a blue curtain in a doorway billows just the same whether you are lucky enough to observe it or not. Travel gives such jolts. I could live in this town, so how is it I have never been here before?" "I love the gods of the crossroads. Throughout the world, people have always recognized the metaphorical significance of the path chosen, the path forsaken." "There are reasons we congregate in these hot spots- to worship beauty and to feel its effects light up the electrolytes in the bloodstream." From 750 to the 12th century, the time was called Convivencia, or peaceful coexistence, where cultures and religions and sexes were at peace and art and culture and trade flourished. It is possible, peace, and it lasted for almost 400 years from Syria to Spain. Portugal Fado (fate) the mysic whose saudade (a pervasive longing and reaching) rips out of the heart. British Isles “…the saturated- green air looked aquatic, as though someone had just pulled the plug, draining away the watery world and leaving swaying meadows, fields, trees, and hills washed and gleaming.” -hydrangeas everywhere… Greece Martin Buber: “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.” “You’re well acquainted with A.D. I expect, the guide announces. Everything you’ll see today will all be B.C”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Beatty

    I just couldn't read this book. I was bored by the tone of a wealthy person going everywhere and doing anything that she wants without regard to the cost. I couldn't relate at all.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Is there a decent travel writer who isn't a pretentious windbag? It's fascinating to me how a woman who has made a career out of traveling to amazing places can be SO DULL. Her disdain for most of the British Isles annoys me. Sorry it's not your gorgeous Italy, but get over it. Also, she called Wales England, which it is not. England is one of my favorite places, and Frances Mayes managed to bore me to death because she wanted to explain the whole country through GARDENS. Ok, maybe gardens are a Is there a decent travel writer who isn't a pretentious windbag? It's fascinating to me how a woman who has made a career out of traveling to amazing places can be SO DULL. Her disdain for most of the British Isles annoys me. Sorry it's not your gorgeous Italy, but get over it. Also, she called Wales England, which it is not. England is one of my favorite places, and Frances Mayes managed to bore me to death because she wanted to explain the whole country through GARDENS. Ok, maybe gardens are an important feature of British culture, but I don't care about how many flower varieties you see and what planting techniques you want to use in your Italian garden. I think she hates fat people, too. A lot of my resentment for this book and Frances Mayes maaaay have something to do with the fact that she is much older than me. Whereas I am content to stay in hostels of questionable cleanliness, she whines about a rental house that is too close to the road, and thus too noisy. I don't think she'd be very fun to travel with. Still, 3 stars, because some chapters actually were beautiful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susanna Venable

    If you are hoping to pick up this book and be whisked away into a foreign land by way of words, you will be sorely disappointed. I'll admit that I did not come close to finishing this book because I found myself bored to tears by her descriptions of her Italian flavored Ritz-Carlton hotel rooms and run-ins with the "locals" (see below). I see there is no need to write much more as other reviewers have already expressed my frustration with this author and this book in many better words. I believe If you are hoping to pick up this book and be whisked away into a foreign land by way of words, you will be sorely disappointed. I'll admit that I did not come close to finishing this book because I found myself bored to tears by her descriptions of her Italian flavored Ritz-Carlton hotel rooms and run-ins with the "locals" (see below). I see there is no need to write much more as other reviewers have already expressed my frustration with this author and this book in many better words. I believe this one Amazon reviewer said it best: "There are...too many stories about refreshing local characters who think Frances Mayes is the nicest, most tasteful, most interesting person they've ever met. Especially since these people tend to be waiters, cab drivers, rug salesmen or others whose business depends on charming the tourists." Perhaps this is her preferred writing style but I can't help but think Mayes was capitalizing on left-over Tuscany fame (a book I never read). I just wonder if she felt as dry writing this as I felt it was when reading it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Fournier

    I did enjoy some of the stories and travel insights but I found Mayes rude and judgemental when it came to "tourists" as if she wasn't one. I understand that living in Italy has given her a more local perspective but isn't she still a tourist in Morocco or Turkey? I also don't like Mayes attitude to any person who doesn't have a perfect body or low body mass index, there is no need for asinine comments about the way other people look.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Driver

    When I saw this book at the library one day and read the description I thought it would be a perfect book for mine and Tom’s little book club. It was my turn to chose the book and I thought we would both enjoy it. As I began to read I knew that this travel novel would provide us with a lot of tips and suggestions that we could take with us once we were able to spend A Year In The World. One passage that really stood out to me was, “The need to travel is a mysterious force. A desire to go runs thro When I saw this book at the library one day and read the description I thought it would be a perfect book for mine and Tom’s little book club. It was my turn to chose the book and I thought we would both enjoy it. As I began to read I knew that this travel novel would provide us with a lot of tips and suggestions that we could take with us once we were able to spend A Year In The World. One passage that really stood out to me was, “The need to travel is a mysterious force. A desire to go runs through me equally with an intense desire to stay at home. an equal ad opposite thermodynamic principle. When I travel, I think of home and what it means. At home I’m dreaming of catching trains at night in the gray light of Old Europe, or pushing open shutters to see Florence awaken. The balance just slightly tips in the direction of the airport.” I felt like this paragraph described me to a “T”. As I continued reading however, I realized that this woman was nothing like me. I found her writing style to be very difficult to get into. At times her descriptions were fascinating but most of the time it was just to wordy. Because I found it so hard to read I ended up only reading the chapters about places that I was extremely interested in visiting, Morocco, Scotland and England. There were times, especially in the chapter on Scotland, that I got very frustrated. It was clear that this was a couple with unlimited funds and all of their friends who met them in Scotland were also intellectuals with bottomless bank accounts. I found it impossible to relate to any of them and found the author and all of her traveling companions to be extremely pretentious and boring. I mean seriously, who decides to put on their own production of Shakespeare when you could be enjoying the local fare at a nearby pub.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I am thus far disappointed in this book...the author is self righteous and contradictory, and writes annoyingly like someone who just wants to prove how rich and well-read they are. It starts with her definition of "adventurous traveling"...to me, staying in 5-star hotels and eating at sit-down fancy restaurants for every meal is a futile way to explore and understand a different land and culture. To truly "get" a different country is to live as much like a temporary local as possible...staying i I am thus far disappointed in this book...the author is self righteous and contradictory, and writes annoyingly like someone who just wants to prove how rich and well-read they are. It starts with her definition of "adventurous traveling"...to me, staying in 5-star hotels and eating at sit-down fancy restaurants for every meal is a futile way to explore and understand a different land and culture. To truly "get" a different country is to live as much like a temporary local as possible...staying in the low-end hotels, hostels, and pensions...eating at the regular street-side restaurants/vendors instead of eyeing out the fanciest recommendations...buying local groceries and attempting to replicate the cuisine...talking to as many locals and fellow tourists as possible to learn tips, secrets, and as much about the true nature of a country as possible: the people. The author is also extremely contradictory - while expressing her displeasure at "the main streets...depressingly jammed with tourists", she seems to have forgotten she is one of them as well. Not to mention this is not truly a consecutive year in the world, as this title implies, but rather vacations split across 5 years. Lastly, what seasoned traveler in their right mind would be swindled by a British panhandler, no matter how sad their story sounds? That had "scam" written all over it from the beginning and both the author and her husband fell for it. That was my first indicator these people really didn't know what they were doing. The best part of this book thus far is that it's inspiring me to go back and write my own travel memoirs...I think they'd be a lot more relatable for a traveler in their 20s!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    I finally finished it! A friend recommended the book because we both like to travel and I looked forward to reading it. My friend later confessed she had never read the book cover to cover but only reads sections as she prepares to travel to the area. I debated about purchasing a paperback or Kindle version. I wish I had purchased the Kindle version to take advantage of the dictionary and highlighting capabilities for the passages I would like to refer back to. I think a better title for the boo I finally finished it! A friend recommended the book because we both like to travel and I looked forward to reading it. My friend later confessed she had never read the book cover to cover but only reads sections as she prepares to travel to the area. I debated about purchasing a paperback or Kindle version. I wish I had purchased the Kindle version to take advantage of the dictionary and highlighting capabilities for the passages I would like to refer back to. I think a better title for the book may have been "Eating My Way Through the Eastern Hemisphere." If they weren't eating they were looking for restaurants or shopping for food. For some meals she included a full list of the course, she provided descriptions of the food preparation and several sauces. She even included two recipes. She also chronicled many of her purchases and who the gifts were for. Who cares? The author included several foreign terms, most of the time with translations. She continually refers to obscure books that she loves and rereads. I looked some of them up in Goodreads for their ratings and reviews. I did not add any of them to my reading list. I learned that I would really like to schedule extra time to spend in some of the lesser known and less tourist travelled villages in other countries to get a real feel for the country and the people, a sort of "stop and smell the roses" reminder.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Contrary to the somewhat misleading title, this is not a book about a single year-long travel excursion. Instead, it is a collection of tales of shorter trips, which add up to a year altogether. Most of the destinations covered are not very exotic…Italy, France, England, and the Greek Isles (to name a few), yet the author manages to recount her experiences with such a great deal of charm that it doesn’t matter these are places we’ve read about many times before. She focuses on uncovering the oft Contrary to the somewhat misleading title, this is not a book about a single year-long travel excursion. Instead, it is a collection of tales of shorter trips, which add up to a year altogether. Most of the destinations covered are not very exotic…Italy, France, England, and the Greek Isles (to name a few), yet the author manages to recount her experiences with such a great deal of charm that it doesn’t matter these are places we’ve read about many times before. She focuses on uncovering the oft-overlooked nuances of the local cultures, with the common undercurrent being that of the concept of home. In almost every place (with a few exceptions), the author tries to immerse herself as much as possible into the natural habitat of the place. She rents houses as opposed to staying in hotels, she shops and eats where the locals do, in each instance imagining what it would be like to call the place home. That said, in some instances the prose did lean towards being trite, with perhaps a little TOO much enthusiastic praise for each and every garden, mosaic, statue, etc…that the author runs across. However, I enjoyed the overall feel of the book, which was one of profound appreciation for other cultures, and which to me made it a very positive, upbeat read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This is a book I read on and off between others. It soothes me when I finish my current batch of library books to know I have a back up read ready to go. It's scary to have nothing to read. I think I enjoyed this book more than most of the reviewers because I read it in spurts rather than straight through. Towards the last 50 pages I was feeling like "lets finish this thing already". The traveling was intresting but wareing too. Yes, it is nice to travel and stay in homes rather than hotels and This is a book I read on and off between others. It soothes me when I finish my current batch of library books to know I have a back up read ready to go. It's scary to have nothing to read. I think I enjoyed this book more than most of the reviewers because I read it in spurts rather than straight through. Towards the last 50 pages I was feeling like "lets finish this thing already". The traveling was intresting but wareing too. Yes, it is nice to travel and stay in homes rather than hotels and cook for yourselves and discover local eateries is neat. To read about the basic ritual over and over was tiring. The good parts went by entirely too fast and there were many more tedious parts. Overall I thought the book was ok, but definately nothing I would re-read again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    A wonderful trip through Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Scotland and places in between. She really "lives" the culture and gets to know the people by tasting their food, learning their gardening habits, reading their poetry, swimming in their waters, and living in their homes (by renting villas or apartments). She and her husband do endure a few package trips (a cruise through Greece, a small charter around Turkey)which only highlight the pleasures of independent travel. I loved this book and ha A wonderful trip through Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Scotland and places in between. She really "lives" the culture and gets to know the people by tasting their food, learning their gardening habits, reading their poetry, swimming in their waters, and living in their homes (by renting villas or apartments). She and her husband do endure a few package trips (a cruise through Greece, a small charter around Turkey)which only highlight the pleasures of independent travel. I loved this book and have my bags packed and waiting for Spain!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tarah

    I checked out this audio book from the library on a whim - it came up on a search of keyword France where I am traveling this summer. I listened to the first few chapters, enjoying her travels in Spain and Portugal, then skipped around a little bit looking for the (very brief) part on France. I enjoyed it but didn't finish because I wasn't interested in more food descriptions.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marylynnmcavoy

    I loved every second of every page—-except for the few spots where Ms Mayes body shames other tourists or unfairly judges customs/scents of poor locals. Those parts I could’ve done without. Giving it 5 stars nonetheless because I couldn’t put it down and am confident this book will shape the next 20 years of my life (think restoring old houses, writing, world travel—-minus the high horse).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tamara York

    I don’t give 1 star reviews often or lightly. I wanted to love this book. I had such high hopes. But it’s truly terrible. It should be called A Few Months Eating My Way Around Western Europe, Buying Boatloads of Knick Knacks, and Long Winded Accounts of Every Artifact I saw in Every Obscure Museum (although that may have been a bit troublesome on the spine). I got to page 320 of 417 and I just can’t make myself finish it. In 300 pages, I still don’t have any sense of character. There isn’t any c I don’t give 1 star reviews often or lightly. I wanted to love this book. I had such high hopes. But it’s truly terrible. It should be called A Few Months Eating My Way Around Western Europe, Buying Boatloads of Knick Knacks, and Long Winded Accounts of Every Artifact I saw in Every Obscure Museum (although that may have been a bit troublesome on the spine). I got to page 320 of 417 and I just can’t make myself finish it. In 300 pages, I still don’t have any sense of character. There isn’t any connection to the reader. There is no STORY here. It’s just a travel log. And a supremely dull one at that. The real kicker is that (twice!) she tells about how she once found a child’s skull in an old graveyard and KEPT IT as a souvenir. What kind of terrible human does that?!? Skip this one and read Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach instead. It’s wonderful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Read this over the course of a summer trip of my own back to visit husband's family in Idaho and I enjoyed the armchair travel. I especially liked the sections on southern Spain and Portugal because we had recently returned from a visit to the Iberian peninsula. I have read several of Mayes' books and, for the most part, enjoy her writing; I like the way she is able to make personal connections with the places she visits and the way she ponders the meaning of home and how a place met for the fir Read this over the course of a summer trip of my own back to visit husband's family in Idaho and I enjoyed the armchair travel. I especially liked the sections on southern Spain and Portugal because we had recently returned from a visit to the Iberian peninsula. I have read several of Mayes' books and, for the most part, enjoy her writing; I like the way she is able to make personal connections with the places she visits and the way she ponders the meaning of home and how a place met for the first time can be imagined as a new home. I did feel that this book is too long. Several of the essays could have been edited or eliminated for a better read. Those who complain about the way the author travels would complain more fiercely, I believe, if she tramped around the world with a backpack staying at hostels. In that case, she would be criticized for "slumming" and being "in authentic." Why should a successful woman not go to fine hotels and eat at fancy restaurants? Is travel less authentic because of her particular circumstances?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    I love Frances Mayes writing style. It is no secret that I loved Under the Tuscan Sun and this was just as good. She has such a way with worlds. I was able to visualize what she saw and taste what she ate. See my full review on my blog.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I thought this would be great to listen to in the car so I got a hold of the audiobook and waited to be whisked away on a journey around the world. I lasted all of one and a half discs. I hate to add this to my "read" list but I feel I ave to save others from torture that is this audio. Typically an audiobook read by the author is great, they know their story better than anyone and it doesn't come across as a reading. Frances should not be reading aloud. It came across more like a speech to the I thought this would be great to listen to in the car so I got a hold of the audiobook and waited to be whisked away on a journey around the world. I lasted all of one and a half discs. I hate to add this to my "read" list but I feel I ave to save others from torture that is this audio. Typically an audiobook read by the author is great, they know their story better than anyone and it doesn't come across as a reading. Frances should not be reading aloud. It came across more like a speech to the PTA. It failed to keep my interest. If you are considering this book go for the printed version although the reviews on that aren't great either.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    "Travel releases spontaneity. You become a godlike creature full of choice, free to visit the stately pleasure domes, make love in the morning, sketch a bell tower, read a history of Byzantinum, stare for one hour at the face of Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna dei fusi. You open, as in childhood, and--for a time--receive this world. There's the visceral aspect, too--the huntress who is free. Free to go, free to return home bringing memories to lay on the hearth." (p xix). "One of my favorite quotes f "Travel releases spontaneity. You become a godlike creature full of choice, free to visit the stately pleasure domes, make love in the morning, sketch a bell tower, read a history of Byzantinum, stare for one hour at the face of Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna dei fusi. You open, as in childhood, and--for a time--receive this world. There's the visceral aspect, too--the huntress who is free. Free to go, free to return home bringing memories to lay on the hearth." (p xix). "One of my favorite quotes from Lorca came from his time in New York. He loved Harlem jazz and connected black music with that of the Gypsies in Andalucia. He said he couldn't understand a world 'shameless and cruel enough to divide its people by color when color is in fact the sign of God's artistic genius.' Bravo, Federico." (p 60, Spain) "This is the largest mosque in the world, where you can feel how the architecture guides you toward a philosophy of prayer. The immense, spreading horizontal space keeps you close to the ground, with no sense of hierarchy, no sense of uplifting the spirit toward heaven. It is profoundly unlike the experience of the Gothic but does not feel totally foreign to the experience of the Romanesque. In a mosque, calligraphic inscriptions from the Koran replace the holy images in Christian churches... In the Cordoba mosque, the multiplied columns make it clear to the worshiper that all the space therein is equal space before Allah." (p70, Spain) "Soon Colette became my close friend... Her writing catapulted me forward... Life drenches her prose... She peels and sections and bites into experience like an orange... Her passion for roses, dogs, sunrise and all the felt sensations of life runs through the molten alchemical process of selecting words." (p 200, France) "Colette, with her innate understanding of the natural world, writes about wine in the most elemental way. A great vintage, she maintained, results from the "celestial sorcery," not the hand of the vintner. She writes: The vine and the wine it produces are two great mysteries. Alone in the vegetable kingdom, the vine makes the true savor of the earth intelligible to man. With what fidelity it makes the translation! It senses, then expresses, in its clusters of fruit the secrets of the soil. The flint, through the vine, tells us that it is living, fusible, a giver of nourishment. Only in wine does the ungrateful chalk pour out its golden tears. A vine, transported across mountains and over seas, will struggle to keep its personality, and sometimes triumphs over the powerful chemistries of the mineral world. Harvested near Algiers, a white wine will still remember... the noble Bordeau graft that gave it exactly the right hint of sweetness, lightened its body, and endowed it with gaiety. And it is far off Jerez that gives its warmth and color to the dry and cordial wine that ripens at Chateau Chalon, on the summit of a narrow, rocky plateau." (p 204-205, France) "My childhood was not edenic, far from it, but the concatenation of first experiences remains a vein of gold in memory. Going back, dipping into those impressions, gives me not nostalgia, no, no, no, but private renaissances. Swinging on the wooden supports of my mother's canopied bed, climbing out the window to play in the moonlit garden, painting myself all over with house paint (my mother shrieking 'You're going to die'), riding on the back of a sea turtle making its way back to the waves, the weet reek of pork roasting on a pit fire, my sashes tied in bows, my father whispering 'You can have anything you want,' hiding in the hydrangeas, imagining my face as one of the pale blooms--the ten thousand images that compose a childhood, those imprints last forever. Wright Morris, of the Craft of Fiction class and the important novesl, told me, "If you've had a childhood, you have enough to write about for the rest of your life."" (p,207, France)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wendi

    It seems blasphemous to give a book which has been personally autographed by the author three stars instead of five. Four stars seemed quite possible but considering that I skimmed the last couple of chapters, I'm settling on three. I did have some of the same complaints about this book as other reviewers such as Mayes and her husband always staying in expensive places and even moving when the places did not meet their high expectations. However, when I thought about it I realized that I have lit It seems blasphemous to give a book which has been personally autographed by the author three stars instead of five. Four stars seemed quite possible but considering that I skimmed the last couple of chapters, I'm settling on three. I did have some of the same complaints about this book as other reviewers such as Mayes and her husband always staying in expensive places and even moving when the places did not meet their high expectations. However, when I thought about it I realized that I have little room to criticize. If I had the kind of money they seem to have, I would stay in the nicer places when possible and I would definitely eat the gourmet meals. Some people seem critical of Mayes because she has the money to simply travel but I can find no fault in this. We all have certain priorities in life. I cannot count the times that I have chosen to spend whatever money I can scrape together - after sacrifices in other areas of life - on a trip only to have a friend/relative/neighbor snidely say, "Wow, wish I could afford to travel like you", as they climb into their new SUV, drive past their freshly remodeled home, and on to their higher paying jobs. I certainly don't fault them for their choices in life but some people seem to see traveling as a luxury while others see it as a necessity. I haven't been able to travel for a few years now but I still see it as a vital part of life which I hope to return to some day. The writing is beautiful, though often a bit too bogged down in detail so that even though I enjoyed her descriptions, I still started skimming towards the end. So why do I (somewhat reluctantly) give A Year in the World only three stars? Because it's not really a year and it's not really in the world. Mayes gathered a number of travel experiences together to make up the collection but didn't really make all the journeys consecutively within a year. And I pictured in the world as truly a larger variety of places scattered throughout the world, not centered in the Mediterranean and mostly throughout western Europe (a bit of the UK is touched upon). She even presents separate "chapters" as different trips which are actually to the same locations previously visited in earlier chapters. Most of all, and what dropped it a whole star for me, was when Mayes recounted conversations with her husband Ed that would (reportedly) sound like, "...what explains the rise in popularity of flamenco, here and everywhere?" and Ed would reply, "A yearning. This art touches a yearning we have. The unspoken longings way inside the heart." Okay, sure, she loves her husband and wants to include him in the book. I don't have any issue with this. And sure, couples talk philosophically with one another but according to the book they talk like this all the time, in every conversation. And skeptical me, I presume that they either do not really talk like this all of the time which makes it seem as though she's trying to seem pretentious or they really do talk like this all the time and really are pretentious. In either case, if I were eavesdropping in a tourist line behind them, I would be rolling my eyes in short order.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tj Mendiola

    I am kind of ashamed that I liked this book. Many Goodreads reviewers called Ms Mayes a pretentious windbag (or a variant of such) and to their credit, they have a valid point. But the author wanted la dolce vita (okay, so her pompousness rubbed off on me), and who can blame her for that? I am certain, though, that I wouldn't want her for a travel companion. Also, she had the gall to criticize Saramago (yes, the Nobel laureate; yes, the national treasure of Portugal) when I don't think she has e I am kind of ashamed that I liked this book. Many Goodreads reviewers called Ms Mayes a pretentious windbag (or a variant of such) and to their credit, they have a valid point. But the author wanted la dolce vita (okay, so her pompousness rubbed off on me), and who can blame her for that? I am certain, though, that I wouldn't want her for a travel companion. Also, she had the gall to criticize Saramago (yes, the Nobel laureate; yes, the national treasure of Portugal) when I don't think she has ever won or will ever win an award for her poetry or prose that is anywhere close to what Saramago achieved. Plus--and this irked me to no end--she (or was it her husband?) thought Macau was in the Philippines (nope, they were probably thinking of Manila; Macau is in China), managed to publish that without bothering to check her facts or her editor doing that for her. It is such an egregious error made by one who proclaims herself to be a passionate traveler that I am compelled to think it was done on purpose, as though to imply that places such as Macau or the Philippines were beneath her and she couldn't be bothered with them. But I liked the book for its insights into literature, culture and history and relating these to the places the author visited. It also happens that the travels she chronicled in this book are to places I am very much interested in and which I have not had the fortune (as yet) to visit. So Ms Mayes may have pandered to my fascination with and banked on my ignorance of these places. When I finally get to visit them, maybe I'll revisit this review. For now, however, four stars. Update (22/04/18) I left for my first trip to Europe one year ago; I visited Italy, France and Portugal. I was tempted to delete the original unkind, bitter and cynical review but decided against it if only to remind myself that being harsh and cynical is unbecoming of anyone. I don't remember exactly what irritated me so much about Ms Mayes' writing, but I read some of the other reviews and it occurred to me my irritation isn't an isolated reaction. I have just finished reading her Bella Tuscany and it too reeks of privilege and an unwillingness to have anything to do with the world's ugliness. Four years ago I would have found it supremely irritating. Now I manage to let that slide and even enjoy the things we have mutual interest in: literature, food, gardening, travel, and good company. I don't think I can be as removed from the world's suffering as Ms Mayes appears to be (in those two books at least), but she has a hunger for the richness of life that I find very easy to relate to.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    First and foremost, Mayes is a poet, and she approaches her subjects with a poet's eye, looking for the magical, the sublime, and the relevance. For some people, this amounts to self-indulgent navelgazing of the worst kind, and it can distance a lay reader from the subject. I see how some readers would feel that Mayes didn't give them the "travel" book they sought. This is *not* a dressed-up Fodor's. However, I approached reading this book as though I were one of Mayes' acquaintances, someone she First and foremost, Mayes is a poet, and she approaches her subjects with a poet's eye, looking for the magical, the sublime, and the relevance. For some people, this amounts to self-indulgent navelgazing of the worst kind, and it can distance a lay reader from the subject. I see how some readers would feel that Mayes didn't give them the "travel" book they sought. This is *not* a dressed-up Fodor's. However, I approached reading this book as though I were one of Mayes' acquaintances, someone she's comfortable sharing some of her personal perspective and sharing her broad knowledge of food, wine, gardening, and literature. The book is not really about the travel, but what each location reveals about its "temperment" through the food, wine, gardening, and literature. She often reads works by people who lived in the places she visits, and her narrative often evolves from trying to see the locations through the eyes and experiences of the other writers. If I wanted the lowdown on the best hotels and restaurants, I'll get a Fodor's guide. If you want to see a bit of the world through a wine- and cheese-loving poet who dabbles in roses and architecture, you will enjoy this book. I particularly enjoyed the sections about the Lycean coast and their travels in England. I also now really want to go to Capri.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    An Amazon review I wish I'd read before I bought this book summarized my opinion of Mayes' travel writing: the writer criticized the discrepancy between the title and the substance: "A year spent unmoored -- from home and errands and work and the ties that bind -- would have yielded a very different sort of book from this. These trips -- house rentals, hotel stays, even a cruise -- represent a series of vacations, instead of the year-long quest that the title promises." In short, it's neither a *y An Amazon review I wish I'd read before I bought this book summarized my opinion of Mayes' travel writing: the writer criticized the discrepancy between the title and the substance: "A year spent unmoored -- from home and errands and work and the ties that bind -- would have yielded a very different sort of book from this. These trips -- house rentals, hotel stays, even a cruise -- represent a series of vacations, instead of the year-long quest that the title promises." In short, it's neither a *year* in the world nor a year truly *in* the world - a series of vacations bookended in real life aren't truly a year in the world any more than cruises and four-star hotels are an honest way of experiencing another locale. Mayes shows us "rich" travel, rich in the sense of expense and not experience -- time spent sampling hotels, food, art, all the finer things, but not time intermingling, exploring. I bought this book while becoming aware of the prickles of my own wanderlust and was very disappointed by how little Mayes seemed to fit her own descriptor of "passionate traveler," but then, our ideas of travel are different. It's true that she writes beautifully, lyrically, but I'm not interested in what she has to say.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    After disliking the movie, I was encouraged to read "Under the Tuscan Sun" and loved it. I found "Bella Tuscany" a couple years later and also enjoyed that read, so I had no problem buying "A Year in the World" for my Kindle. For me, it was worth it. We are travelers and have found every way of traveling imaginable so it was great to see another travelers perspective. I love enjoying the food, coffee, and sites of another country... but I also enjoy the days of sitting in an apartment and wishin After disliking the movie, I was encouraged to read "Under the Tuscan Sun" and loved it. I found "Bella Tuscany" a couple years later and also enjoyed that read, so I had no problem buying "A Year in the World" for my Kindle. For me, it was worth it. We are travelers and have found every way of traveling imaginable so it was great to see another travelers perspective. I love enjoying the food, coffee, and sites of another country... but I also enjoy the days of sitting in an apartment and wishing all the other tourists would go away, so I could see the people in their "natural habitat." Relax people... it's a travel book. Her passions might be different than yours. One of the best parts of the book is how it's set off by chapters. If you don't like what she's telling you about one place, move on to the next. Maybe by the time you're done reading the parts you like, you'll be able to come back and enjoy bits and pieces of the parts you didn't. Travel is about growing. Are you flexible? Can you handle different peoples? Religions? Languages? Foods? You don't have to change your basic beliefs by understanding other people's cultures...or the way other's travel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    Being someone who considers herself to be passionate, a traveler and passionate about traveling, I love nothing more than reading about someone else who shares these qualities. I also love someone who, while writing about the sea off the coast of Sardinia, feels it necessary to quote D.H. Lawrence. Bliss, I tell you. Pure, transportational bliss. I've actually started reading this book again, for the first time. In its original incarnation into my life, this book was a gift to my mother. And in Being someone who considers herself to be passionate, a traveler and passionate about traveling, I love nothing more than reading about someone else who shares these qualities. I also love someone who, while writing about the sea off the coast of Sardinia, feels it necessary to quote D.H. Lawrence. Bliss, I tell you. Pure, transportational bliss. I've actually started reading this book again, for the first time. In its original incarnation into my life, this book was a gift to my mother. And in typical form, after having purchased this gift, I started reading it. Of course I didn't allow for enough time before it needed to be gifted, so I gave it to me mum. And me mum, being so totally intuitive into the core of my person, gave it back to me once she had finished reading it (she probably saw the dog-eared pages and just knew). Now, the question remains, do I give it back to her after I've finished reading it or do I give it to someone else? Me thinks that by returning it to my mom and allowing her to pass it along would be the best karmic solution to this conundrum.

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