Frances Mayes had us swooning for the Italian countryside in her memoir Under the Tuscan Sun. Now, she’s taking the setting a little closer to home with Under Magnolia. Released earlier this week, the story weaves together a Southern childhood full of mischief, hilarious anecdotes, and the sights and sounds of the Deep South. You better believe we devoured every page of this delicious read.
A native of Fitzgerald, Georgia, we thought Frances might have a thing or two to share about life in the South. Here, the author gives her favorite Southern tidbits.
Not necessarily in the U.S., what’s the most southern (geographically) place you’ve ever been?
Key West in the USA and below that, Peru.
The most Southern thing I’ve ever done is…
Come back home to live in the South after a whole career in California.
What’s your favorite Southern food craving?
It’s a tossup between caramel cake and coconut cake, the big three-layer wonders with a thousand calories a slice.
Who is your favorite Southerner of all time?
In high school I fell in love with the romantic CSA General, Jeb Stuart. He still seems dashing and very cool. Now, the humanitarian Jimmie Carter seems like a model human being, and he’s from my part of Georgia!
When in the South, your favorite pastime is…
I’m fond of sitting on the front porch in the cool of evening, reading poetry and sipping iced tea with a splash of pineapple juice.
What’s your favorite Southern fragrance?
Gardenias in the rain.
What’s your favorite Southern read?
It’s too hard to choose! I’m an enormous fan of Eudora Welty.
Spoiler Alert: Under Magnolia made our May issue’s summer reading list. Pick up a copy (on newsstands 5/18) to see more books we’re digging into this summer.
Tuscanny vs. Fitzgerald, Georgia: Which storied locale do you think has more to tell? Sound off in the comments below.