Maria's Reviews > A Year in Provence

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
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's review
Nov 28, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction, book-club

3.5 stars.

Well, this was a very charming read. The whole "o hay we moved 2 provence, awesome rite?" thing wasn't nearly as obnoxious as I thought it was going to be, although I still think these travelogues are highly masturbatory in nature. Peter Mayle has a light touch with a pen (I think I read the whole thing in under five hours), and a real flair for characterisation. I admire a man who can sketch a portrait in a sentence, like this bit describing his uncle, for example: "'Puke in private, dear boy,' he used to say."

One of the other things in the plus column is that despite the fact that he describes over half a dozen different meals, he doesn't go into great detail about the actual food. He is not that great at making you salivate. This is a good thing. I hate books that make me miserable about what I'm having for dinner in reality. It would have been okay in this particular case, I guess, since it was Thanksgiving weekend that featured, among other things, roast duck with pineapple, strawberry-cranberry sauce, yams, roast pork, Black Forest cake, pumpkin pie made from scratch, potato pie, and other tasties, but whatever.

No, this book is mainly about the lifestyle in Provence. It doesn't over-romanticise it, but it's clearly relaxing and lovely and healthy and all those good things.

I think I am going to read the sequel in case some of the same people appear in it too. Especially Bennett. Bennett is awesome.

Book club notes:
pp.36-37: funny rant about people inviting themselves. Also: "Drink your coffee before it gets dirty."
p.87: Hilarious bit about burglaries. "He looked at me as if I had committed an act of terminal lunacy. 'You must be protected immediately. I will send a man this afternoon. Stay en garde until he comes.'"
p.112: Ah, the gay English uncle. "Puke in private, dear boy."
p.124: BENNETT!
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