Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany, among other travel
books, again takes readers on a fantastic journey. Mayes and her husband decide that they are at a point in their lives where they can take off for a year to travel around the world—which is a little deceptive, because other than Turkey and Morocco, they stay in Europe—staying for a month or so in each location. They feel that this would allow them to rent a home and become part of the culture and life of the areas they were visiting, rather than experiencing life from a purely tourist point-of-view.
The result is A Year in the World. Mayes and her husband, Ed, travel to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Fez, France, England, Greece, Crete, Scotland, Turkey, and Capri. The reader joyously travels along with the couple, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of each location. Some of their experiences are funny, others are melancholy.
As I’ve never traveled to Europe, Mayes gave me a glimpse at each country she visited and helped me to discover places I too might want to encounter someday. Her vivid imagery of Spain and Portugal created an intense longing in me, as well as their house-share in Scotland and wonderful trip to England.
A Year in the World is incredibly detailed and has the potential to drag in some portions, especially when Mayes is quoting from different authors’ works. However, the reader can take or leave any portions that might not appeal, because as a whole, the book is delightful. I adored the sections with food descriptions, because this happens to be a passion of mine, but again, that might not appeal to every reader. So A Year in the World has something for everyone. Her exquisite attention to detail is unsurpassed.
I also loved reading about her home in Tuscany and her dream to open a café in Georgia (the state, not the country) someday. A Year in the World is a book to be savored, portions re-read, read out loud to others, and pondered. It just might make armchair travelers (like me) decide to take the plunge and enjoy some travel ourselves.