A Year in the World
Frances Mayes was a heralded poet before her 1996 best-seller Under the Tuscan Sun, a memoir that combined mastery of language with equally deft perception of people. Her writing still shimmers here, although the title is a bit of a dodge: While she and her husband spent a total of one year in Morocco, Greece, Turkey, and parts of Europe, the trips were taken over the course of several years. Moreover, since she can’t settle in on her many short stays, her new book reads like the longest postcard ever written, detailing endless meals, meanderings, and museums. ”Writing Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany made me realize the depth of my interest in the mysterious intertwining of character and place,” Mayes writes. But A Year in the World is almost entirely lacking in the former, so it never transforms ”Wish you were here” into the feeling that you are.