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A Year in Provence
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Product Description

Who hasn't dreamed, on a mundane Monday or frowzy Friday, of chucking it all in and packing off to the south of France? Proven?al cookbooks and guidebooks entice with provocatively fresh salads and azure skies, but is it really all C?tes-du-Rh?ne 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 Proven?al 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 Lub¨¦ron 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 Rh?ne 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 Proven?aux 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

A funny--and often hilarious--month-by-month account of the charms and frustrations of moving into an old French farmhouse in Provence and adapting to a very different way of life.

Customer Reviews:

  • funny and delightful
    In A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle descibes his and his wife's first year living in Provence as British expatriats. The book is divided into twelve chapters, one for each month, and takes us through the Mayles adjusting to life in France and getting their old farmhouse renovated. Mayle writes with self-deprecating wit and genuine pleasure for his new home. He is clearly bemused and captivated by his new friends. For example, before the cherry harvest (his land has 30 cherry trees), natives warn him repeatedly of the coming migrant "gypsies" who officially come to harvest the cherries but also have a habit of thievery. The stories are so overblown, that Mayle can't wait to meet these horrible gypsies; the results are hilarious. He and his wife also learn to contend with the Mistral, a harsh wind coming from Siberia, which their plumber informs them is getting stronger year by year, which can only mean that somewhere between Provence and Siberia the earth is getting flatter. In addition to all the home repairs are descriptions of excellent meals in perfect little restaurants around Provence. All is written with breezy good humor and infectious delight for both Provence and the Provenceaux....more info
  • An armchair escape!
    If you're looking for a nonfiction trip to France, this is a good read. I like A Year in Provence (and Toujour Provence, too). Interestingly, I think Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and Toujour Provence Mayes' work got reworked into Italy via Frances Mayes' Under The Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany. Interestingly, though, I would recommend Under the Tuscan Sun over A Year in Provence....more info
  • Delightful
    This book was a wonderful read. Funny, light, somewhat educational. Easy to read. Descriptive to the point that I felt I was there.
    GREAT!!...more info
  • Worth a read
    An account of one man's move to Provence and his first year there. The book deals with mundane issues - building a house, meeting neighbors, and eating - but it is well written and successfully interests the reader in the small details of his life....more info
  • Great Armchair Travel to Provence!
    One day, having been smitten with Provence, France for a long time, I discovered the Travel Literature section of my local bookstore. I found a book entitled "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle. This book chronicles the author and his wife's move from their home in England to Provence, France. The book, broken down by the months of the year, tells us what the Mayles encountered whether it be people, customs, food or weather. The book is quite amusing as Mayle describes the French as well as he and his wife's innocent, naive approach to the Provencial way of life. Throughout the book, Mayle describes delicious foods that only the French could have developed. The description of the food and Provence made me want to travel there! Oh! How I would LOVE to go to France! If you are interested in French food, check out this book! It is a quick read, and very entertaining....more info
  • Armchair travel par excellence.....
    Mayle shows us a corner of Provence through his own besotted eyes and what a charming picture he presents! I agree with another reviewer that his charicatures of the locals are just that - one-dimensional snapshots that lack depth and are long on generalizations. But Mayle is showing us life in Provence as he found it, and if he wears blinders that led him to focus on the scenery, ambiance, weather, and most importantly, the food, it's hardly cause for complaint! He brings his wry sense of humor, talent for observation and significant story-telling skills to a number of people, places and situations and in the end creates a marvelously warm and witty portrait of a place he has come to love. He is showing us HIS Provence, and the best recommendation for the book is that it will leave you with a compelling desire to go and see it for yourself. Which is perhaps a downside as well because I understand that his book was so successful and brought such a flood of tourists that he has moved!...more info
  • Lovely little read.....
    If you've ever lived overseas, or felt like "an outsider" in a different culture, this book is for you. It captures regional details that one can only experience by "living" in a new place, as opposed to just traveling. I learned more about realtionships between cultures than I just did about French living. A must read!...more info
  • A Year in Provence
    This audio was well read and presented. I'm not a fan of this type books. Read it for book club. Another confirmation for me was to avoid abridged versions....more info
  • Toujours Provence is better
    It was interesting reading the first book after having read Toujours Provence. Of the two I prefer Toujours for it's vingette style of wrapping the author's autobiographical elements around the eccentric lives of those he meets. In A Year in Provence, it's exactly that, twelve chapters that start in January and go linearly through to December. Both are valid story telling methods but I think that the thematic method used in the sequel made for a more entertaining book....more info
  • A Little Piece of France at Your Fingertips.
    Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant! I bought this book on a whim and have since ordered the rest of the series. I have bookmarked nearly every other page in anticipation for my trip this summer. I took to heart that this was written over a decade ago and things might have changed, but it was so heartwarming and funny I hope things are still a little like Mayle described....more info
  • Delicious reading, creme brulee for your head!
    I read this book as a follow up to "Almost French" which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wanted more but that author hadn't written anything else (yet?) so I looked to the back cover where there were some recommendations. I am so glad I did!
    I always read 2 or more books at one time, usually because I have required reading for my profession. The book became my dessert and I rewarded myself for all kinds of tough accomplishments (even some teeny weeny ones) with a chapter or 2. It went all too fast and I was sorry to have it end! Sometimes, it was so funny that I had to wake my husband up to read him a passage, while my sides were splitting (he laughed too!) If you like reading anything about the French culture, or even just European culture, you will probably enjoy this book....more info
    I loved the funny antedotes in this book and it's a great book. It's about an English couple who buy a house in France to spend a year there to fix up the house. There's Ramon the plumber who is one of the interesting characters and the book talks about some of the events going on in the area along with some French cuisine. While reading this book, it feels like I'm in France. I really liked this book. It is funny, well written and interesing. I can't wait to read the second book in this series. A great travel book...more info
  • Excellent cultural information presented with humor
    If you are looking for travel information for spending a week in Provence, this is not the book. Instead try Rick Steve's tour books or other sources. However, if you want to go deeper than just tourist sites and Roman history of the area, this is an excellent book. It gives a lot of cultural info of the locals. It would help you to understand both the people and the area better. To top it off, the book has a lot of humors that even my 11 year old daughter find it interesting and funny. She finished the book before I did. The only "cons" is the book contains some French words or phrases from time to time without any translations. It would be nice if the editors of the book put a footnote for each of those phrases, especially for non-French speaking readers....more info
  • Delightful!
    This book was a joy to read. First of all, I found Peter Mayle's writing style to be charming and amiable. While keeping the story light and humorous (the book has many very funny parts) the author gives a reader a chance to learn something new. When he described anything from cuisine to Provence locals I found myself either salivating while reading "food paragraphs" or I felt that I met all the characters myself. That's how good the author is with words. Good book and what a great vacation from all other modern fiction books....more info
  • Clever and fun, a Year's Journey
    I read this book years ago, along with it's 2 sequels, this being my favorite of 3. I've also often given it as a gift to friends preparing to go anywhere in France, and they've loved the humor of it / a taste of France / the French.
    Here's an idea...
    Imagine planning, and then giving a holiday party, inviting all your home improvement contractors, "as well as their wives", to... in a nice way...embarrass the contractors into "finally" finishing the jobs that have been dragging out for a full year of "no shows". I loved it became a time line competition to finish their individual jobs first. ...more info
  • A Year in Provence
    It is an utmost charming book, full of wit and humorous observation about life in Provence. It is a pity, that the audiobook is abridged. I read the printed edition and bought the audiobook for my blind wife. She enjoyed it greatly, but lost part of it because of being abridged....more info
  • I wonder what he would write about Indiana?
    I started the Provence trilogy by reading the last one first-no matter,I will probably read them again because they are so good and redolent [maybe too strong a word] of humanity. I read books slowly and the predominant thought that I always dealt with at the time, regardless of how much of it had passed since last I picked up the book, was the extraordinary humanness of his writing. The book oozes with deep, deep love for the people, their culture and the land that surrounds them-even the animals that accompany their passage through this life in the Luberon. The second thought that always occupied my mind as I read Peter Mayle is one of total envy-how can a person be so observant and at the sme time express those observations so lovingly and so clearly.

    To someone who has not read the book, realize that it is a series of anecdotes about the people that become part of his life in Provence. These people, perhaps naturally or perhaps through Mayle's superb writing, take on a larger than ordinary life. He paints them with the utmost care and love but they emerge from his canvas as more interesting, more substantive and more full of life than most of us can manage-hence the title of this comment.

    A marvellous, readable book. ...more info
  • A Hilarious Vicarious Journey to France
    Englishman Peter Mayle and his wife realize what most of us could only dream about--life in the French countryside of Provence. Food and the hearty French life are the themes that run through this book as the Mayles undertake renovating their 200 year old farmhouse.

    Season by season, Mayle infuses the local folk with wit and character, introducing the eccentric Massot who it seems is forever trying to sell his house to someone, Monsieur Menicucci the local plumber who plays clarinet to keep his fingers nimble during the cold season, stonemason Pierrot who lays stone floors as well as making tombstones, and a good array of other fascinating individuals. Discover how Mayle and his wife became the proprieters of a vineyard virtually overnight (weren't things supposed to take forever in Provence, Mayle thinks???), and how to properly prepare a meal of...Fox!

    Throughout, food and drink are the ties which binds all together, beyond craft and culture. Or perhaps it is the ultimate craft that makes the culture. At any rate, a lovely fun book, much cheaper than a plane ticket or even renting a place in France. THIS is how to live! ...more info
  • warm and funny - feels like a holiday in Provence!
    Recently, feeling a little tired and overworked, I decided to re-read Peter Mayle. I started at the beginning - with "A Year in Provence". When I read it for the first time, several years ago, I lived in Switzerland and read it rather as a companion to my frequent trips to France. Now I haven't been to Europe for a long time, so I needed to charge my batteries. I can recommend Mayle's books as a great remedy for any kind of boredom with everyday life and lack of vacation!

    Mayle's book energizes in an amazing way. From the first chapters (the book is divided into months), although it started in unusually cold January, I felt like I were in Provence, breathing the fresh air smelling of herbs and lavender, lived in an old, stone house among the vines and at the feel of the Luberon mountains, and ate good food.

    Inevitably, food, as a great part of the French experience, is an important subject in this book. Foie gras, wild mushrooms, truffles, wine, all kinds of game, restaurants from home-style ones serving fixed dinners and run by elderly couples, to the most elegant, with multi-course menus and champagne. I could read only about the food forever (luckily, Peter Mayle wrote more books about his life in Provence).

    Mayle's gentle, but unfailing English sense of humor and his style make this book a lot less banal than it could be, considering the light subject. His masterful character creations, rendering his French neighbors and friends with accuracy, but also with almost loving tenderness (I am sure that even the people shown most critically and in the most funny way, like the grumpy farmer Massot, could not be offended by these descriptions), are superb.

    The process of adjustment to the French way of life is painful, but it is sweetened by all the pleasures of living in the dream place, and it is great to feel the happiness of the narrator. I liked this light, cheerful book, when I was done, I immediately started "Toujours Provence", and, of course, began planning my French holiday......more info
  • Can't wait to move!
    A wonderful read that I continue to share with friends and family....more info
  • Must Read
    This book is a 'must read' for anyone planning a trip to Provence. I kept a page for notes in the back as I read and used them when I planned our trip. Peter has a great sense of humor while accurately telling his story. We enjoyed our trip and reading his book was a bonus....more info
  • A delightful travel book
    An excellent story of a couple living out their dreams in the beautiful Rhone Valley of France. Mayle fills "A Year in Provence" with his own witty accounts of exursions to near by villages and remodeling a 200-year-old farm farmhouse. The couples daily life is described in great detail, highlighting their delectible French meals. A true joy from begining to end!...more info