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book coverA Year in the World

Book Review
Continued from page 2

Excerpt 2: An English house of horrors

Inside we could hear the constant vroom, vroom of motorcycles and see the tops of trucks whizzing by the wall that separated the house from the onslaught. Fascinating how a house inescapably reflects the owner. At the entrance we were greeted with a sign in boldface: PROPERLY PARKED? REMEMBER TO PARK ONLY WHERE DESIGNATED. In the foyer we faced NO BICYCLES, SCOOTERS, ETC. ARE ALLOWED INSIDE THE HOUSE, OF COURSE. I especially liked that of course! There were even "no smoking" signs tucked into the hunting prints that decorated the wall. Inside the cupboards were taped lists:TWENTY EGG CUPS, SIX WOODEN MATS, TWO TOAST RACKS... My favorite was PENALTY CHARGES WILL BE LEVIED FOR RUBBISH NOT CLEARED. Ed pointed out PLEASE DO NOT ALTER THE TIME CONTROLS and DO NOT MOVE THE FURNITURE and PLEASE DO NOT STICK ANYTHING ONTO THE WALLS. He opened the fridge and called me. "I'm fascinated by the mind that created this instruction: DO NOT PUT SODA CANS IN THE VEGETABLE BINS."

The oh-so-anal admonishments we could ignore, but the traffic astounded me. I reluctantly walked to the house next door and learned that the owner was away. "In Tuscany," her daughter (no sign of damage from über-Mama) said blithely, "and no one ever complained before." Isn't that a well-known psychological strategy? Quickly pull the rug. Who rents a vacation house on a highway?

And so we left....

Next page: Savoring Seville

Excerpted from:
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller
by Frances Mayes

A Year in the World, by Frances Mayes:
Book review
Excerpt 1: Flying with Italians
Excerpt 2: An English house of horrors
Excerpt 3: Savoring Seville

Book excerpt copyright © 2006 by Frances Mayes. All rights reserved.