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A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Travel memoirs are always a delight, don't you think? A little pile of it is actually growing on my bookshelf, a third of which are about France. One of them made it here earlier in the blog.

In this book, Peter Mayle and his wife moved to France in an old stone farmhouse in the Luberon region. The English couple spent their early days bustling errands with their sporadic French, meeting neighbors, discovering the mystery of truffles, dealing with a half-finished home, harrying imposing guests who's a friend of a friend, facing local oddities and the typical culture shock.

Mayle writes their adventures in a series of months, from January to December, and it gets more interesting from one chapter to the next. I think the winning streak of this delightful account is the author's rich wit and candor, with a talent of turning an almost disastrous moment into a hilarious comedy of errors.

I like that the narrative followed the seasons thereby observation taken from places is flavored by the winds and skies. Even Mayle has noted that he could more or less tell the time by the position of the shadows in their courtyard. It is a country life after all, where the elements play a larger role in everyday living.

It especially foretells what fruits and dishes are served best. The couple's gastronomic journey is by far the highlight of the book as they try to introduce us to the wonders of French cuisine. A few things to keep in mind when faced with an array of French dishes: "Eat up! Drink up! Replace those corpuscles! The stomach must be served!"

This book is the ultimate companion to a glass of wine on cool evenings sitting on your most comfortable chair. It shows us a glimpse of the French countryside, the Provencal life, not of the few weeks of vacation impressions but the day to day eccentricities.


In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Luberon with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhone Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy  pleasures of Provencal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

Title: A Year in Provence
Author: Peter Mayle
Genre: Memoir, Travel
Published: 1991
Publisher: Vintage
Rating: ♨♨ ( 4 cups - Rich of ironic wit and eccentric French neighbors and delightful food!)


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