Book Reviews Books I've published Mindful Charlotte Mason

Modern Copywork Series: Frances Mayes and Under the Tuscan Sun

Copywork is, to me, one of the gems of the Charlotte Mason education style. There are variations, with people staying faithful to the stricter and religious guidelines while many choose to modernize. I remember reading in Charlotte Mason groups of the opinion that ‘most of what has been published since 1980 has been twaddle’, or dumbed down, lesser-quality writing.


But I love books and I love SO many books published recently as well as classics.


This week, I published my first in a series of copywork books called Modern Copywork Series, available as ebooks. This first one is modernized and is titled Copywork for Creative Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators


To celebrate, I thought I would post a couple of blogs of passages from newer books, to counteract this business about new books being ‘twaddle’. This blog includes some gems from Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany and See You in the Piazza.  If you’ve only seen the movie, the book is very different and deserves to be read. 🙂 All quotes in this book are from Under the Tuscan Sun. Her website is Like her books, her website contains recipes!


Frances Mayes is a college professor and author who, with her husband Ed, bought a villa in Tuscany. I love to travel and I admire and aspire to how Ms. Mayes can capture the sense of place in words. For students who want examples of how to describe time and place and things, Frances Mayes is worthy of imitation and study.


You can use the following quotes on any paper you choose. Pull out words as needed for spelling or vocabulary study. Talk about her use of the words, and how she helps us feel as we are experiencing Tuscany as well.  Enjoy! Watch the PBS special and cook some of Frances Mayes’ recipes for an immersive Italian experience. These quotes come from Under the Tuscan Sun, with the corresponding page numbers from my personal copy, published in 1996 by Chronicle Books.


Copywork Quotes


I admire the beauty of scorpions. They look like black-ink hieroglyphs of themselves. (p. 24)


He’s an old man, this wayfarer with his coat draped over his shoulders and his slow contemplative walk down the road. (p. 42)


It is late afternoon, just after a thunderstorm when the light turns that luminous gold I wish I could bottle and keep. (p. 48)


The key word in blacksmith is black. His shop is charred, soot covers him, the antiquated equipment, and the forges that seem to have changed very little since Hephaestus lit the fire in Aphrodite’s stove. Even the air seems hung with a fine veil of soot.  … My impression that he stepped out of time is strengthened. Where is Aphrodite, surely somewhere near this forge? (p.59)


When they arrive it will be the soft, slow Tuscan twilight, fading after drinks from transparent to golden to evening blue, then, by the end of the first course, into night. Night happens quickly, as though the sun were pulled in one motion under the hill. (p. 122)


The Big Dipper, clear as a dot-to-dot drawing, seems about to pour something right on top of the house, and the Milky Way, so pretty in Latin as the via lactia, sweeps its bridal train of scattered stars over our heads.(p. 123)


(describing an olive pressing mill) The mill smells thickly oleaginous and the damp floor feels slippery, possibly oily. Rooms where grapes and olives are pressed have the odors of time, as surely as the cool stone smell of churches. The permeating ooze and trickle must move into the worker’s pores. (p. 195)


Sweet time, exaggerated days, getting up at dawn because when the midsummer sun tops the crests across the valley, the first rays hit me in the face like they strock some rock at Stonehenge on the solstice. To be fully awake when the sky turns rose-streaked coral and scarves of fog drift across the valley and the wild canaries sing. (p. 260)


I was drawn to the surface of Italy for its perched towns, the food, language, and art. I was pulled also to its sense of lived life, the coexistence of times that somehow give it an aura of timelessness–I toast the Etruscan wall above us with my coffee every morning–all the big abstracts that act out in everything from the aggression on the autostrada to the afternoon stroll through the piazza. I cast my lot here for a few short months a year because my curiosity for the layered culture of the country is inexhaustible. (p.260)




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