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Download Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir, by Frances Mayes Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Frances Mayes Narrator: Frances Mayes Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A lyrical and evocative memoir from Frances Mayes, the Bard of Tuscany, about coming of age in the Deep South and the region’s powerful influence on her life.

The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family. 

From her years as a spirited, secretive child through her university studies—a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances’s confidant Willie Bell.

Under Magnolia is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define ourselves. With acute sensory language, Mayes relishes the sweetness of the South, the smells and tastes at her family table, the fragrance of her hometown trees, and writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South and into the rest of the world, and then to a profound return home. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Mayes describes the birth of her extraordinary sensibility…Her prose style is seamless to me and she writes in a royal style.”

    Pat Conroy, New York Times bestselling author

  • “With perfect-pitch language, Mayes unblinkingly describes her growing-up years…One can almost smell the cloying scent of honeysuckle, gardenias, and overripe peaches that infuse the always-too-humid air.”

    USA Today

  • “The strength of Under Magnolia lies in the very claustrophobia Mayes aches to flee as a child…In certain heightened moments of this memoir, Mayes breathes the same air as [Carson] McCullers.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “As gothic as anything Faulkner could have dreamed up, populated by characters straight out of a Flannery O’Connor story…a thorny memoir that strips away the polite Southern masks, sweet magnolias be damned. Unforgettable.”

    Atlanta Journal Constitution

  • “A captivating memoir by Mayes recalling life growing up in a small Southern town and how the region permeated her psyche…One of those books you want to devour but realize it’s more satisfying to savor for as long as possible.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “With her trademark skill for capturing the essence of place and time, Mayes candidly reveals a youth riddled with psychological abuse and parental neglect that, nevertheless, ignited a fiery passion for adventure and self-discovery.”


  • “No other writer today breathes life into place like Frances Mayes…This memoir recalls bygone days filled with neighborhood characters, sultry weather, Sears Roebuck catalogues, smothered quail—all the trappings of a Southern childhood. Under Magnolia is a love song, a rich and beautiful book.”

    Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

  • “An unflinching meditation on the relation between self and culture and, more specifically, on the gravitational pull of memory. This is a book to be savored, a feast for both mind and soul.”

    Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana

  • “The author of Under the Tuscan Sun…retains her Georgia accent…[and] engages with stories of her challenging childhood.”


  • A BookPage Best Book of 2014

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Shawn | 8/17/2016

    " Loved Under the Tuscan Sun, this one the author just seems to be chewing on too many $1000 words when $100 words would do and help relate to the story "

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