Most helpful critical review
A sweet taste of France
on June 29, 2001
This being my first entry into the world of travel memoirs, I'm not sure how A Year in Provence compares. However, my uninitiated opinion is that of a pleasant surprise. I thought this book was very well written; a nice and light story; and a tempting depiction of rural France and all its glorious food, festivals and residents.
A Year in Provence is written in monthly chapters and tracks the days in the life of the English author, Peter Mayle, and his wife who have purchased a home in a small village in Provence, France. Readers are witnesses to blustery Mistral winds, torrential summer downpours, the finer points of wine harvesting, installing central heat, business practices of Provencal businessmen, and the joys of goat racing through the town.
While there is no action of great depth or importance, I found this book to be a pleasure to read. At first thought, I wasn't too sure I liked it. There is no plot, no surprise, no twists in the storyline like my usual reading. However, if my mindset was set in low gear prior to the first page, I would've been prepared for the meandering, languid story that was to follow. Also, beware of the liberal tossing of french words and phrases that are never explained or defined -- a translation dictionary would be a trusty and helpful companion.
Now that the book is complete and back safely on my bookshelf, I have decided that A Year in Provence was indeed enjoyable. If one goes into the book with no ideas for a fast-paced, action-packed story and takes it for what it actually is -- a travel memoir -- the reader will undoubtedly have a wonderful reading experience. It just took me 207 pages to realize it.