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A Year in Provence [Paperback]

Peter Mayle
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 4 1991 Vintage Departures

National Bestseller 

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 Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône 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 Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

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A Year in Provence + Toujours Provence + Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France
Price For All Three: CDN$ 38.16

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Product Description

From Amazon

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

From Publishers Weekly

An account of the author's first frustrating but enlightening year in Provence opens with a memorable New Year's lunch and closes with an impromptu Christmas dinner. "In nimble prose, Mayle . . . captures the humorous aspects of visits to markets, vineyards and goat races, and hunting for mushrooms," said PW. Author tour. Illustrated.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and delightful April 30 2004
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Remove author & wife. Insert self & spouse. Nov. 20 2003
By Barbara
An Englishman and his wife buy a farmhouse in the countryside of Provence. I presume they are wealthy and retired, because they haven't a care in the world about money and they don't have anywhere else to be. And they certainly don't have jobs. The book starts on New Year's Day and chronicles the author's first year in his new home in a rather detached narrative. The author's wife, his guests and anything not French are somewhat shallowly described and often aren't even given names. If they have kids, I don't recall them being mentioned. I certainly have no idea how old they are. I therefore had no trouble inserting myself and my husband in place of the author and his spouse in this picturesque fantasy.
The real characters are the locals, the workmen, the café owners, the neighbors, their quirky habits and the divine cuisine. Some of the anecdotes seem contrived or shifted in time to accommodate the structure of the book in chapters based on months, but I didn't care. I loved the descriptions of the food, the markets, the country roads, the truffle hunting...
I found the author's style of writing very charming, if somewhat impersonal, and the situations that would induce a working city woman like myself to explosive anger are injected with an innocuous sarcasm that just made me chuckle with laughter. Even though the author must deal with sporadic remodeling, a constant stream of uninvited English guests, the cleaning of the pool etc., Life is good. So don't worry. Eat, drink and be happy.
I read 2, 3 or 4 chapters at a time and I had no trouble putting it down. I even read another book after August and picked it up to read September after a particularly hectic day and I finished the book in that sitting. This was not a page-turner. But I enjoyed it anyway.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Oct. 9 2003
This book is a journal about the adventures of a British family who have recently moved to an aging farmhouse in rural Provence. The author, Peter Mayle, is resolved to let nothing get under his skin, whether it be the unexpectedly cold winter weather, the unpredictable work schedules of the crew fixing up his house, or the unending stream of acquaintances from rainy London who decide that they would like to spend their vacations at Mayle's home in the sunny south. Mayle's style is to treat all of these happenstances with humor, in a British sort of way. At the same time, he manages to squeeze in many details of typical life in rural France. If you've spent any amount of time yourself in the French countryside, you will recognize the scenery that Mayle describes immediately. Mayle also expounds on the pleasures of eating in France- -don't pick up this book if you are trying to control your appetite. Occasionally, Mayle's descriptions of the people he encounters come across as a little too flippant, but overall, the book is quite enjoyable.
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Surrender to the quintessence of Provence! "A Year In Provence" chronicles Mayle's real-life experiences following his family's (wife and dogs) move from England to Provence. Their pages offer an entertaining and light-hearted narrative of everyday life -- the people, the climate, the landscapes, and mainly the acclaimed Provençal art of eating! -- from the perspective of a British "long-term tourist" (as Mayle puts it). The Provence series is usually located in the "Travel" section at most bookstores; yet the discriminating reader will happily discover that these are more novel than guide. Mayle's storey-telling skills are top-notch and keep you reading until the book is done. This, coupled with his clever facetiousness, is a winning combination. Any avid fan of "dry British humour" will enjoy Mayle's witty anecdotes as he puzzles over the sometimes eccentric antics of his Provençal neighbours. These two gems, "A Year in Provence" and it's sequal "Toujour Provence", are amongst the prized possessions in my bookshelf!
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5.0 out of 5 stars C'est la Vie in Provence March 9 2003
A Year in Provence is a captivating novel by Peter mayle accounting the life of a quaint couple and their two dogs starting a life in the Provence countryside in France. With a love of wine and a few outgoing neighbors, they are quickly settled into their home despite a few minor touch ups, or maybe not so minor. Remodeling their kitchen, making a new table, and getting a vineyard of their own are the first of many tasks on hand. As the summer nears, the pool also must be tended to and stripped of its new green muck color. Goat racing through the town is a pure delight and the various cuisine encounters are nothing short of interesting and "magnifique"!
Mayle's knowledge of the French countryside of Provence must be a non-fictional account for his portrayal is very accurate. He often intertwines colloquial french phrases and words to produce a real life effect. Very little dialogue is used but the story is descriptive and flowing with each incident told. Mayle employs the use of humor in his depiction of the Provencal inhabitants. He emphasizes the use of the Frenchmen's gestures when speaking and the importance of meals and relaxation.
This travel novel provides everything you need to know about the people and routines of Provence. A dream come true for the young couple and a year long adventure encompass this warm-hearted and delightful novel. "C'est la vie!" in Provence.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful!
Such skill with words, the author took me there and thoroughly entertained me. Also made me hungry! A great story!
Published 5 months ago by Terry Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful glimpse
A lighthearted whimsical look at life in a wonderful place. Makes you want to go. An easy read but a great journey.
Published 7 months ago by JRM
5.0 out of 5 stars Endearingly Funny!
I read this book before, during, and after we toured Provence and absolutely loved it. It's one of those books one keeps to read again when one feels nostalgic about this magical... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Elizabeth Waugh
1.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A RIPP OFF
Come on Amazon, $15.99 for the kindle edition? Are you serious????? We're talking about an electronic book here, no printing, no paper, no warehouse. Shamefull!
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling
I am French, and I don't mind laughing about French people, I often do.
But this book is total nonsense, the author doesn't understand anything, probably because he doesn't... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great
It's and older book, but is an easy read, and very humorous and well written. It's one of those laugh out loud books!
Published 17 months ago by Peggy
4.0 out of 5 stars The French and food?
Funny and very well written. The way Peter Mayle describes how the French have this love affair with food is hilarious.
Published 18 months ago by Real Bedard
5.0 out of 5 stars A Year in Provence
My friends who live in Provence invited me to visit and hopefully I will do just that this coming summer. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Irene Blondeau
5.0 out of 5 stars A Light Humourously Written Read
I have read this book once already in soft cover. I decided after a lot of years that I wanted to read it again but found it easier to read on my IPad so I purchased the online... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Debbie M Stroud
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
This book relates the "memoires" of an English couple for the first year following their acquisition of a villa in Provence. Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2011 by S. Lavigne
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