Biography/Memoir, Reviews

Review: Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I typically stay away from non-fiction and I had no previous interest in horse racing so I probably wouldn’t have read Laura Hillenbrand’s fabulous Seabiscuit: An American Legend if I didn’t absolutely love the film version with its edge-of-your-seat action and subtle, intelligent humor. Those qualities came from the book. Even though I know (a version of) the story, I found myself tearing through the passages about the races with rapt attention as if I were sitting in the grandstand and laughing out at the wicked humor, especially that of Tom Smith. Most importantly, though, I learned so much about the sport, about the people that are a part of the sport, and the history of our country at a tumultuous period.
The first part of the book moves a bit slower than the rest of the book as Hillenbrand introduces the reader to a multitude of characters with an intimate focus on Charles Howard, Tom Smith, Red Pollard, George Woolf, and, of course, Seabiscuit. So at first, I was afraid that my preconception about non-fiction, that it is dull and minutely detailed, might be true of Seabiscuit: An American Legend. I am so glad that I was wrong.

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Biography/Memoir, Reviews

Review: Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I learned a few things about myself while reading Under the Tuscan Sun. I’m not a fan of non-fiction most of the time. I need a story to immerse myself into. What I learned is that that is particularly true for road trips. I thought that Mayes’s unique descriptions of Tuscany would transport me while I was transported to my destination. It didn’t always work but I did find myself seeing my surroundings differently. With more of a writer’s eye, I hope.
Mayes’s descriptive language was transportive. I could smell the fresh earth and all the life it supports; I could see the ultra-saturated colors of the sunflowers, poppies, clothing, and building materials; I could feel the intensity of the summer sun making siesta time so necessary; I could taste all of the incredible dishes made only with fresh local ingredients. And it left me wishing that my seventeen-year-old self had been capable of appreciating all the sensual delights of Italy while I was there.
Under the Tuscan Sun, despite all the descriptions of hard labor Frances and Ed went through to restore Bramasole, left me feeling romantic about Italy, especially the Tuscan and Umbrian regions, and longing to return. To spend long days just exploring the beauty hidden in the details.

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