A! Magazine for the Arts

Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes

Sunday with Friends hosts two speakers

February 27, 2019

The Friends of the Washington County Public Library presents two speakers during March. The talks are held at 3 p.m., at the Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, Virginia.

Robert Gipe speaks March 10 at 3 p.m. Gipe talks about “Weedeater: An Illustrated Novel,” a sequel to his celebrated first novel, “Trampoline.” Set in contemporary eastern Kentucky, it returns to the character Dawn Jewell, the center of her family, who is searching for lost family members, her lost youth, her lost community and her lost heart in the most turbulent and deadly phase of the community’s battle with opioid abuse.

Gipe is a native of Kingsport, Tennessee, and is the director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky, where he is involved with an oral history-based theater project called “Higher Ground.”

Frances Mayes speaks March 31 at 3 p.m. Mayes is the international best-selling author of a four books about moving to Tuscany and restoring an old villa, Bramsole. They include “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Bella Tuscany,” “Every Day in Tuscany” and “In Tuscany,” a collaborative photo-textbook with her husband, the poet Edward Mayes, and photographer Steven Rothfeld.

Her first novel, “Swan,” a family saga and mystery, returned Mayes to her childhood home of Georgia. She is also the author of the travel memoir entitled “A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller,” which debuted as a New York Times bestseller in 2006. Working again with Steven Rothfeld, she published “Shrines: Images of Italian Worship,” also in 2006. A film version of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” starring Diane Lane, was released in fall of 2003.

She’s also the author of “See You in the Piazza,” a travel narrative that crisscrosses Italy, discovering their hidden secrets, the enchantment of the backstreets and the hubbub of the markets where tourists rarely go.

Her new novel “Women in Sunlight” delves into possibilities women face as they grow older. Three southern women meet at orientation at Cornwallis Meadows, an active lifestyle retirement community. They become friends and decide to leap out of what is forecast for them and take on life in Italy. Their story is told by Kit, an American writer already ensconced on a Tuscan hillside. They’ve all had their share and more of heartache but this is their year. Mayes wrote the novel as a tribute to all the women she has met who have traveled to a foreign country in quest of enlightenment.

Prior to “Women in Sunlight,” Mayes published “Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir,” set in her hometown, Fitzgerald, Georgia. Her work has been translated into more than 50 languages.

A widely published poet and essayist, Mayes has written numerous books of poetry, including “Sunday in Another Country,” “After Such Pleasures,” “The Arts of Fire,” “Hours,” “The Book of Summer” and “Ex Voto.” Her work “The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems” is widely used in college poetry classes.

Formerly a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, where she directed The Poetry Center and chaired the Department of Creative Writing, Mayes now devotes herself full time to writing, traveling and restoring an historic garden. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Cortona, Italy.

Book sales and signings and refreshments follow the talk. For more information call 276-676-6298 or visit www.wcpl.net.