Earlier this week I took a trip “back home” to coastal Georgia. I can’t stay away for long, or I become homesick for the humid, salt-tinged air; the bright quality of the sunlight; the evening songs of the marsh frogs; the moss-laden branches; and the soft, black earth under my toes. I crave it, I need it, I am lured home again and again.

One of the highlights of this trip was a chance–finally–to meet author Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and other books, in person. Frances and I share roots in south Georgia, as well as an intense love for Italy and other locales with a strong sense of place.

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

Frances and I have corresponded over time, and in spite of her busy schedule, she was kind enough to take the time to read my book, The Gondola Maker, and write a few lines about it:

“I’m a big fan of Venice, so I appreciate Laura Morelli’s special knowledge of the city, the period, and the process of gondola-making. An especially compelling story.”
—Frances Mayes

It was a pleasure to get the chance to sit outside on a lovely south Georgia evening and chat with Frances over a glass of wine.  I loved hearing her speak of her Georgia childhood and her life in Italy with her soft southern accent.

Under MagnoliaI went home with a copy of Frances’s new book, Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir, and I’m nearly finished with it even though I have slowed down the pace of my reading in order to make the story last. Her descriptions and impressionistic memories of growing up in Georgia are so beautifully rendered. It is simply a wonderful book and I am not ready for it to end… Pick up a copy!

Tell me… Have you read any of Frances Mayes’s work? Comment below!


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