In the latest from the bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, an expat writer living in a Tuscan village gets an idea for her book when four older American women come to town for a year-long vacation in which they deepen their friendship, rediscover their talents, and otherwise thrive.
This is a determinedly happy book so that means women in their 50s, 60s and 70s hit the restart button and a woman in her mid-40s, who thought she could not have children, bears a healthy son. In Mayes' finely tuned imagination, we come to love these women who learn Italian, refine their cooking, start amazing gardens and revive a tired villa. Still, the novel feels padded, with many ancillary characters ... this veers a bit into fantasy territory. No money worries and exciting interesting men for these women. It's a lovely notion ... Given the constant barrage of horrific news, the happy tidings in this are a balm.
Yes, this is a version of Eat, Pray, Love for women of a certain age. Call it Eat, Drink, Nap. Readers who want sparkling details about great meals in a beautiful setting might consider this agreeable story for a long plane ride ... If you met these characters at a dinner party, you would find them charming, if oblivious to their pampered existence. There is never, ever a moment’s hesitation over money. They furnish their rental villa with linens, fruit trees, antique garden tools and anything else they desire. One woman spends 1,000 euros on art and poetry books ... Everything is delicious, colorful and charming. All the lanes are lined with cypress trees, all the women are fashionable, and everyone is always stopping for a quick espresso at a cute cafe.
Despite life's challenges, there's a constant sense of revelry with meals, seasonal menu planning, blind wine tastings among friends, fresh olive oil after a hands-on harvest, and enthusiastic exploring on weekend trips that invites the reader to join the journey. As each woman learns she’s not too old for new dreams, the only question left is whether a fantasy in a foreign country can last forever. Italy isn't the only place where the sun shines, but here it illuminates what's truly important for these appealing characters, as they 'va & torna,' go and return.