Only those who love sitting through slides from other people's vacations are likely to warm to Mayes's latest, on the joys of owning a renovated Tuscan villa. Mayes's first book on the subject, Under the Tuscan Sun
, sold two million copies and spawned a Hollywood film, but with each return visit to familiar territory (Bella Tuscany
; In Tuscany
) Mayes finds less fresh material. This work is a grab bag of guess-you-had-to-be-there anecdotes (Mayes devotes an entire paragraph to the activities of a wasp that flies into her study while she's writing) and suggestions for how readers can, as Mayes and her husband, Ed, do, live the good life in northern California and Italy. (Hint: it takes a lot of money.) The book includes 25 recipes, though few are specifically Tuscan. Instead, Mayes devotes space to Nancy Silverton's Italian Plum Tart (Silverton, founder of Los Angeles's Campanile restaurant, has her own villa one valley over) and several recipes of Ed's. The listing of Mayes's own "At Home in Tuscany Collection" of furniture at book's end adds to the coyly self-indulgent feel. (Oct.)
The conceit that readers can live this lush lifestyle rings hollow, and the mishmash of decorating advice, travelogue, recipes and random musings never gels. Mayes's name carries weight, but this is unlikely to come close to
Under the Tuscan Sun's success.