Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir, published in April, 2014 by Crown, is Frances Mayes’s coming-of-age in Georgia memoir. The story begins and ends in the present, with the middle of the book devoted to life in the deepest South in a small town. It’s an ode to the South as an intense and (then) isolated place and to the people who lived their passionate lives there. The book is populated with a cast of intrinsically southern characters—fatalistic, ribald, eccentric, and big-hearted.
Frances has always adored houses, and when she saw Bramasole, a neglected, 200-year old Tuscan farmhouse nestled in five overgrown acres, it was love at first sight. Out of that instant infatuation have come three marvelous, and hugely popular, memoirs. The bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun, remained on The New York Times bestseller list for two and a half years. The other international best sellers are: Bella Tuscany, and Every Day in Tuscany, the last in her Tuscan trilogy. She has published two photo-texts, In Tuscany, a collaborative photo-textbook with her husband, the poet Edward Mayes and photographer Bob Krist, and Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style from the Heart of Italy, another collaborative book with Edward Mayes and photographer Steven Rothfeld. All five highly personal books are about taking chances, living in Italy, loving and renovating an old Italian villa, the pleasures of food, wine, gardens, and the “voluptuousness of Italian life.” The books are translated into more than forty languages.
Recently, Frances and Ed published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from My Italian Kitchen, a collection of their favorite Tuscan recipes.
Her first novel, Swan, a family saga and mystery, returns Mayes to her childhood home of Georgia. A film version of Under the Tuscan Sun, starring Diane Lane, was released in fall of 2003. She is also the author of the travel memoir entitled A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller, which immediately debuted as a New York Times bestseller in 2006. Working again with Steven Rothfeld, she published Shrines: Images of Italian Worship.
A widely published poet and essayist, Frances Mayes has written numerous books of poetry, including Sunday in Another Country, After Such Pleasures, The Arts of Fire, Hours, The Book of Summer, and Ex Voto. Her text The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems is widely used in college poetry classes. Formerly a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, where she directed The Poetry Center and chaired the Department of Creative Writing, Mayes now devotes herself full time to writing. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Tuscany.