Author: Frances Mayes
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: April 3rd 2018
The new novel from the mega bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun about four American expats and strangers who become unexpected friends during one magical Italian autumn
Three American women--new friends, all older single women--have taken a lease on a stone manse in Tuscany. They are escaping, reinventing, reevaluating, the fates expected of them as aging women in America. They are novices in a foreign culture, figuring out the day to day, but what they share is a gusto for life and a sturdy if indefinite determination to thrive. Released from their former lives, encouraging each other, and finding a lot of "why not" courage, each woman becomes more than she'd dreamed she'd be. Though there are serious setbacks because of cultural misunderstandings, jealous locals, and tensions from home, their trajectories throughout the novel are big affirmations of late-life possibilities.
The novel is narrated by Kit Raine, an American expat living in Italy, whose current project is a biography of her friend, novelist Margaret Merrill. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of the three women in her small town, who force Kit to question what such arrivals (and departures) mean for expats like her. The women's life stories begin to intrigue her as their trajectories veer in unexpected directions.
Readers of Under the Tuscan Sun will relish this return to Frances's trademark warmth and heart, as well as more delicious descriptions of Tuscany's food, wine and culture to savor. This novel is for anyone who dreams of an escape to Italy or a second chance at happiness.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes is a book that will appeal to those who enjoy travel and learning about other cultures. The story has some wonderful elements that describe life in Tuscany and the concept is quite interesting. Unfortunately, there are just too many characters to keep track of in the novel, which distracts the reader from the main plot.
This is my first Frances Mayes novel. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading her popular book, Under the Tuscan Sun, but have heard wonderful things. When I saw this book available for review, I was intrigued by the synopsis and the fact that Mayes’ novels are so-well loved. Women in Sunlight is a story that follows the lives of older women who decide that life is still worth living, so they pack up and move to Italy to explore. I have read one other book recently that discusses aging, and it is a topic that I am sure is going to become increasingly popular as our populations age.
I really enjoyed the Tuscan elements that are what really pull the book together. Aspects of the region’s food, travel, art, gardening, and much more are brought to life through the characters’ experiences. It is definitely reminiscent of Peter Mayle’s Provence series, as the main characters have moved to a European region and immersed themselves in the every day life of a small town. The friendship of the 60 year old women really takes root as well, as they encourage each other to hone in on their skills of cooking, art, and gardening.
While there is much to enjoy about the concept and the theme of friendship, the writing was not as wonderful as I had expected. There are far too many side characters in the novel. I actually lost track of quite a few and just got tired of trying to remember who some of them were. Also, there is a side story that was interesting, but really could have been a whole story on its own. The book just felt as though it was smashed together with lots of bits and pieces that were really unnecessary.
Women in Sunlight is a book that will offer it’s readers a virtual trip to Italy. The story really gives a sense of the culture and the people that make up a small Tuscan village. It’s exploration of friendship and living life to the fullest make the book an interesting read. However, the story does become tiresome to read as there is an abundance of characters to remember and a side story that distracts from the main plot.