Tuesday, April 1, 2014

UNDER MAGNOLIA: A PREVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

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UNDER MAGNOLIA
A Southern Memoir
BY FRANCES MAYES

ABOUT THE BOOK:
A lyrical and evocative memoir from Frances Mayes, the Bard of Tuscany, about coming of age in the Deep South and the region’s powerful influence on her life.

The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family.

From her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies—a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances’s confidant Willie Bell.

Under Magnolia is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define ourselves. With acute sensory language, Mayes relishes the sweetness of the South, the smells and tastes at her family table, the fragrance of her hometown trees, and writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South and into the rest of the world, and then to a profound return home.

PRAISE FOR UNDER MAGNOLIA:
“[A] gutsy, honest portrait of the artist as a young girl.”– Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“In her new southern memoir, Under Magnolia, Frances Mayes describes the birth of her extraordinary sensibility, the deep-pooled clarity of her writing, her giddy love of nature, and her sharp and satirical eye for those who brought her up to honorable womanhood in the tortured South of her girlhood.  Her prose style is seamless to me and she writes in a royal style.” 
–Pat Conroy, New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and The Death of Santini 


“Under Magnolia is one of the most brilliant memoirs ever written, shedding new light on a certain mysterious South and offering a memorable portrait of the artist as a young girl. Frances Mayes, a petite, brainy beauty from what we used to call politely “a troubled home” has written an unnervingly honest and refreshingly open account of how a child can be neglected even amid privilege and a large family…Filled with curiosity, she is “always reading under the covers… and looking for secrets, whatever was hidden…. I taste the sharp medicine and liver pills in the bathroom, know the sour bush whisky someone from out in the county brought my father.”  In the chapter on Randolph Macon we have the best portrait ever drawn of life at the “girls schools” of the older South.  Frances has a genius for the perfect image, the telling detail, much as her mother Frankye had a genius for fabric.  I’m sure Frances is one of the few writers in the world who grew up knowing that “a peach chair will go with anything.” ...Reader, artist, scholar, poet—Frances Mayes gradually became the aesthete and writer she is today, a passionate lover of the world and the word.”—Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth



“No other writer today breathes life into place like Frances Mayes. In Under Magnolia, she turns her prolific gift of language and description to the South and her childhood there. This memoir recalls bygone days filled with neighborhood characters, sultry weather, Sears Roebuck catalogues, smothered quail—all the trappings of a Southern childhood. Under Magnolia is a love song, a rich and beautiful book.”—Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and Comfort: A Journey Through Grief





“Mayes has written a brash and delightful, cringe-worthy and uproariously funny memoir. As I read, I wished Mayes had been my teenage neighbor. Wit—as well as misery—loves company.”—Margaret Sartor, author of Miss American Pie 

"Under Magnolia is much more than an entrancing memoir: it is a work of art that defies the distinction between prose and poetry or novels and autobiographies.  It is also much more than a personal narrative: it is an unflinching meditation on the relation between self and culture, and, more specifically, on the gravitational pull of memory.  This is a book to be savored, a feast for both mind and soul." – Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
FRANCES MAYES is the author of four books about Tuscany. The now-classic Under the Tuscan Sun–which was a New York Times bestseller for more than two and a half years and became a Touchstone movie starring Diane Lane. It was followed by Bella Tuscany and two illustrated books, In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home. She is also the author of the novel, Swan, six books of poetry, and The Discovery of Poetry. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. To read more "Bio" on Frances Mayes, visit her website HERE.
 
SOME "Q & A" WITH FRANCES MAYES:
Q. With your gift for luminous physical description, and vivid and affecting characterizations of family and friends, Under Magnolia is an honest and unforgettable memoir. What made you decide to write about your return to the South?
A. Thank you for the kind words! After decades in California, I moved back to the South. The experience of returning after such an exile just naturally began steering my writing. I was thrown backwards and forwards for about three years by the assault of memories I didn’t even know I had. Much of that had to do with language. Suddenly I was back among those who spoke my native tongue. I’ll always marvel at the liveliness of southern speech—so full of metaphor and hyperbole, quirks and vividness. This reconnection with the language of the South inspired me to get out my ink pen.

Q. As a child you were filled with curiosity and a sense of discovery—always reading under the covers and searching for secrets. How did your upbringing in Fitzgerald, Georgia, instill in you this sense of wonder and adventure?
A. Families all over have secrets and weird people and foibles, and mine did too. Beyond that, most of my wonder and adventure came from two sources, books and the place itself. I read my way around the library, as many writers have. At first I thought writers were all dead but when I learned that you could be a live writer, I got the idea that writing was the best thing one could do. When I was nine, I started a novel called Girl of the Highways. It was about a runaway—what I longed to be. But the place! I loved the moss-hung swamps with cypress trees growing out of black water. I loved the hot fields, the big smeary sunsets, the springs and brown rivers, the great shade trees, the short history of my town and how it came to overlay the land.
 
Q. In your chapter about Randolph Macon you vividly give a portrait of life at a southern girl’s school. Did you enjoy your experience there?
A. Mixed. Many of the seminal experiences of my youth took place there. It’s where I awakened to the wide world and to the shocking idea of intellectual rigor. I met many fabulous friends. Even in the sixties, it was almost comically repressed. I tried to write it truly and with humor and affection. But some who went there will not be amused.

Q. What surprised you most while writing this book?
A. How fresh memory stays. Writing, I can again baptize the dog, feel my graduation pearls unstrung, rolling across the church floor.

Q. What do you hope readers will take away from Under Magnolia?
A. In Nicaragua once, we drove by a house, way in the country. A family of maybe twenty were lined up on the front porch and my friend remarked, “Each one has his own philosophy.” I always remember that wise remark. Out of the way places—the fly-over places—are intense worlds of passionate lives engaged with a particular spot on this small whirling object in space. My memoir lies near that porch in the jungle. Another desire I have for a reader is to show that the dreary and reductive if… then… of psychology isn’t true. Your own will can trump how you were raised. And, this is hard to express, but I’m always in wonder over the mysteries of love—how it endures in a molten state even under the hardest strata.
 

SOME OTHER BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR:
           


           

             

GIVEAWAY
THANKS TO SARAH AND THE GOOD
FOLKS AT RANDOM HOUSE AND CROWN,
I HAVE ONE COPY OF UNDER MAGNOLIA 
TO GIVE AWAY TO ONE LUCKY READER
  
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!


HOW TO ENTER
+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU READ ABOVE ABOUT UNDER MAGNOLIA THAT MADE YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK


+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING AT FRANCES MAYES'S WEBSITE HERE

 

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, YOU CAN COMMENT SEPARATELY AND EACH WILL COUNT AS AN ENTRY 

 

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON A CURRENT GIVEAWAY THAT YOU HAVE ENTERED ON MY BLOG. IF YOU ENTERED MORE THAN ONE, YOU MAY COMMENT SEPARATELY FOR EACH TO RECEIVE MORE ENTRIES

 
GIVEAWAY ENDS AT 
6 PM, EST, APRIL 14
  
WATCH FOR MY REVIEW COMING SOON...AS I CONTINUE TO CATCH UP ON LIFE! THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE!

44 comments:

Carol N Wong said...

I love reading memoirs and reading about the South. I would like to compare my growing up in the Midwest to hers in the South. And of course all families have secrets!

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Carol N Wong said...

I tweeted: http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2014/04/under-magnolia-preview-and-giveaway.html

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Carol N Wong said...

I like that she had a link to Reading Guides for her books. I like to browse them and think about what my answers would be.

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I follow with an e-mail subscription.
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I entered for "Murder on Bamboo Lane".

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traveler said...

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traveler said...

The author has written fascinating books. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

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petite said...

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holdenj said...

I still haven't read any of her books, they all sound so good.
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rubynreba said...

I think it would be very interesting to read the memoirs set in the South.
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