Review of “Under Magnolia”


While I had heard of Frances Mayes, particularly in connection with her book, Under the Tuscan Sun, I had never read any of her work before.

This year has been the year that I fell in love with memoirs, and we all know how much I love To Kill A Mockingbird (I am the girl with cats named Atticus and Scout, after all), so when I had the opportunity to read Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir, I was extremely excited.

However, don’t let the beautiful cover of Under Magnolia fool you. It is not a breezy remembrance of a gardenia-scented childhood spent in the deep south.

Rather, it is a painful story, that while filled with both love of books and hope, is fraught with abuse, turmoil, and tragedy.

Tracing her stolen childhood through her turbulent coming of age, Under Magnolia is an account of Frances Mayes’ first twenty-two years.

Documenting her parents’ violent marriage, her questioning and ultimate loss of faith, and romantic flings that cost her friendships, Under Magnolia is a solemn view of coming of age in the deep south during the sexual revolution and civil rights movement.

Overall, while Under Magnolia was intriguing, and I could, in ways, relate to Mayes’ love of books, travel, and culture, it was a dark and pensive look at life in a small Southern town. Also, readers should be aware that Under Magnolia did have a scattering of foul language, including multiple uses of the “f-bomb”.  I would give Under Magnolia a “C+”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, part 255.


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