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A Place in the World Reader’s Guide

By Frances Mayes

A Place in the World by Frances Mayes


1. Frances Mayes has often written about feeling at home in places that were not or never could be home. As a traveler, have you imagined another life in another place?

2. Why do some places happen to hit us like lightning, making us so taken with them that we are willing to upend our lives to be there? What powers would those places need to have for you?

3. For the author, Provence planted the seeds of a new perception. Travel can do that if you’re open to a place. What did Provence offer? Has a place ever had such an effect on you?

4. Where do people get their ideas of what comprises home for them? Do we carry our earliest senses of home with us for the rest of our lives?

5. The book explores friendship—including friends’ homes—in detail. In what ways are the homes of friends revealing of the friendship or of the friends themselves? Is it always true that our homes reveal who we are?

6. Food and good meals are mentioned throughout A Place in the World. How are food, memory, and home intertwined?

7. How has our digital world changed travel? In this day and age of selfies, social media, Google Maps and Translate, WhatsApp, et cetera, can travel still feel “foreign”?

8. Mayes reflects on stone in the formation of a house—lasting hundreds of years, reminding residents that they are simply passing through in the life of an old house. Did your perception of stone change? How do you see it now?

9. Talk about the shrine at Bramasole. Why does it have such a life of its own? Does it make you want to create a shrine in your own home?

10. “Why Stay?” is the title of the last section of the book. How would you answer this question?
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