Women in Sunlight 

Frances Mayes (Under the Tuscan SunUnder Magnolia) returns to the sensuous glories of Italy in her beautifully rendered and richly woven novel Women in Sunlight. Catherine "Kit" Raine is an American expat in her late 30s. She has lived and worked as a successful writer and poet nestled in the Tuscan hills of San Rocco for 12 years. Her current project is a biography of fellow American Margaret Merrill--an older woman, good friend and a writer whom Kit admired--who set down roots in Tuscany much earlier.

When Margaret died, she surprisingly bequeathed her estate to Kit. Their friendship was at times rocky and difficult. However, Margaret's posthumous generosity made a lasting impression on Kit. In trying to broaden the readership of Margaret's work--and better understand her enigmatic friend--Kit grapples with memories on the page that lead Kit to examine her own life and future.

Kit's quest deepens when three American women--and their unruly dog--move into the villa next door. The three women are new friends, all retired, who met at an orientation for a 55-and-over retirement community near their homes in Chapel Hill, N.C. The threesome are still vital and active enough to assert their independence.

Mayes's writing glimmers with masterful sensory descriptions. Readers can practically taste the white foam that tops cappuccinos, step into elongated shadows cast by cypress trees and feel the echoing cold retained amid old stone villas. Mayes delivers another intimate story, told in lively episodes, that details how unexpected friendships can lead to reinvention and bright new beginnings at any age. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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