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A Year in Provence (1990)
by Peter Mayle
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679731148, Paperback)Who hasn't dreamed, on a mundane Monday or frowzy Friday, of chucking it all in and packing off to the south of France? Provençal cookbooks and guidebooks entice with provocatively fresh salads and azure skies, but is it really all Côtes-du-Rhône and fleur-de-lis? Author Peter Mayle answers that question with wit, warmth, and wicked candor in A Year in Provence, the chronicle of his own foray into Provençal domesticity.
Beginning, appropriately enough, on New Year's Day with a divine luncheon in a quaint restaurant, Mayle sets the scene and pits his British sensibilities against it. "We had talked about it during the long gray winters and the damp green summers," he writes, "looked with an addict's longing at photographs of village markets and vineyards, dreamed of being woken up by the sun slanting through the bedroom window." He describes in loving detail the charming, 200-year-old farmhouse at the base of the Lubéron Mountains, its thick stone walls and well-tended vines, its wine cave and wells, its shade trees and swimming pool--its lack of central heating. Indeed, not 10 pages into the book, reality comes crashing into conflict with the idyll when the Mistral, that frigid wind that ravages the Rhône valley in winter, cracks the pipes, rips tiles from the roof, and tears a window from its hinges. And that's just January.
In prose that skips along lightly, Mayle records the highlights of each month, from the aberration of snow in February and the algae-filled swimming pool of March through the tourist invasions and unpredictable renovations of the summer months to a quiet Christmas alone. Throughout the book, he paints colorful portraits of his neighbors, the Provençaux grocers and butchers and farmers who amuse, confuse, and befuddle him at every turn. A Year in Provence is part memoir, part homeowner's manual, part travelogue, and all charming fun. --L.A. Smith
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -0400)
They had been there often as tourists. They had cherished the dream of someday living all year under the Provencal sun. And suddenly it happened. Here is the month-by month account of the charms and frustrations that Peter Mayle and his wife -- and their two large dogs -- experience their first year in the remote country of the Luberon restoring a two-centuries-old stone farmhouse that they bought on sight. From coping in January with the first mistral, which comes howling down from the Rhone Valley and wreaks havoc with the pipes, to dealing as the months go by with the disarming promises and procrastination of the local masons and plumbers, Peter Mayle delights us with his strategies for survival. He relishes the growing camaraderie with his country neighbors -- despite the rich, soupy, often impenetrable patois that threatens to separate them. He makes friends with boar hunters and truffle hunters, a man who eats foxes, and another who bites dentists; he discovers the secrets of handicapping racing goats and of disarming vipers. And he comes to dread the onslaught of tourists who disrupt his tranquillity. In this often hilarious, seductive book Peter Mayle manages to transport us info all the earthy pleasures of Provencal life and lets us live vicariously in a tempo governed by seasons, not by days. George Lang, who was smitten suggests: "Get a glass of marc, lean back in your most comfortable chair, and spend a delicious year in Provence."
2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.
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