Under the Tuscan Sun, 2003
Frances finds out her husband is cheating and to cheer her up her two friends offer her a 10 day vacation in Tuscany traveling with a gay bus tour. Frances goes and falls in love with the house Bramosole which she impulsively buys and plans to restore, leaving her life in San Fransisco behind. She throws herself into the renovation, making friends as a way to heal her broken heart.
Why I love it – This is a story one woman’s heartbreak and the strength that led her to healing. I love Diane Lane, she can do little wrong in my eyes and this is one of my favorites. She shows Frances’s emotions in a way that we can all recognize. She was mad, hurt, sad, funny, endearing, and full of life.
Who hasn’t imagined (even just for a second) leaving everything behind to start over somewhere new? And what better place to do this but in Italy? I love the boldness of her decision, egged on by the exuberant Catherine who encouraged her growth at every turn. It was the eagerness to live the life she always imagined that had me rooting for her happy ending.
The Queen is out with her dogs one day when she discovers the bookmobile parked by the palace. So begins her discovery of the joys of reading for pleasure. Always one to take her duties seriously, reading somehow begins to creep into her schedule, making her mundane duties most unpleasant since she must leave her book behind. And as the staff becomes more put-off by the reading, the Queen takes a hard look at her obsession. She is a doer, and ultimately, a choice must be made.
This delightful story enticed me with its lightness, but captured me with its unabashed love of reading books. As the Queen notes, reading is a generally solitary pursuit and many of her thoughts on this stuck with me, especially as I was passing out books to strangers for World Book Night. Thankfully, we can and do find ways to connect through reading. This will make you take a look at your own reading life, and most likely, you’ll identify with the Queen’s discovery of the new worlds books open and her eagerness to share what she’s read. I don’t think the general public is as unread as this author seems to think, but maybe they are and I just don’t want to see it.