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A Year in Provence

A Year in Provence [Kindle Edition]

Peter Mayle
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

Who hasn't dreamed, on a mundane Monday or frustratingFriday, 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

Product Description

Enjoy an irresistible feast of humour and discover the joys of French rural living with Peter Mayle's bestselling, much-loved account of 'A Year In Provence'.

Peter Mayle and his wife did what most of us only imagine doing when they made their long-cherished dream of a life abroad a reality: throwing caution to the wind, they bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron Valley and began a new life. In a year that begins with a marathon lunch and continues with a host of gastronomic delights, they also survive the unexpected and often hilarious curiosities of rural life. From mastering the local accent and enduring invasion by bumbling builders, to discovering the finer points of boules and goat-racing, all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life are conjured up in this enchanting portrait.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty account of a year in a foreign country 15 Jun 2003
By Julie
A Year in Provence ... Peter Mayle is a master of wit in this book. He seems to effortlessly bring his characters to life with their amusing quirks and behaviours. It is a very witty account of the problems Mayle encountered trying to get settled in the new country - trying to adapt and be accepted. This really is one of my laugh out loud books, and I would recommend it as such. Most countries/cultures have a few funny little quirky behaviours, that can be considered amusing if you can step back and see the funny side of life. If you can approach this book with that view in mind, and light-heartedly enjoy the diversity of cultures and their customs/ behaviours, you will indeed enjoy and appreciate this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, could not put it down. 20 May 2002
I could not put it down it was very funny and has introduced me to his other books. Despite what some other reviews might say it is not a poke at the French people. It is very obvious that Mayle is in love with the people and the country.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully witty read. 28 Mar 2002
This is not a high-brow expose of French culture, but rather a pleasent account of a man and his wife doing what I wish I could, moving permanently to a quiet French village.
It's obvious that Peter Mayle is not short of a few pounds as he seems able to afford all rennovations to his house (any-one wishing to read an account of pennyless people moving to a foreign country should read 'Extra Virgin' by Annie Hawes) but this is not a DIY book either.
Peter Mayle has an effortless way to make his writing feel like a long letter to a friend.
You will not discover any ground breaking revelations here but, as one who spends time with an adopted continental family, I recognised many of the quirks which Peter Mayle describes (and my continental partner did not find it in the least offensive either). If you dont have a funny bone, dont read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still a good read 30 Jun 2010
This love -letter to Provence, written in the late eighties, is still very readable. You can practically feel the sun on your back, and believe you are tasting with Peter Mayle the glorious range of food and wine across the seasons.

A Year In Provence spent a long time, deservedly, at the top of the best- seller list when it was first published. It also had many imitators, but none came anywhere near to equalling it.

The book has shrunk to only 4 stars now in my estimation because it has dated a little, through no fault of the author's. Technology has galloped ahead since the book was written, making the book a pre-internet period piece.

Nevertheless, if you are heading for the South of France, read this to put you in the mood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 13 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I remember vaguely some of the hype around it at the turn of the 90's but as I was only about ten I had no real interest in it at the time. I decided to watch the TV adaptations -staring John Thaw - on YouTube recently, which were good enough to make me want to read the book and I'm glad I did. It's much much better than the TV shows - Peter Mayle has a great sense of humour (lost in the TV versions) and the joke is just as often on him as on the colourful characters he meets in each chapter. His observations, although funny, clearly emanate from a place of deep affection, fondness and respect for the eccentricities of his new community and friends, of which there are many. The way in which he describes everything from the food to the weather to the people themselves is excellent - he creates a vivid image in your mind as though you were there. I've been to France loads of times and have some family in the south and although I've been to Provence as a child I'd really like to go again to see how much has changed and how much of the Provence in the pages of this brilliant book remain in the 25 years since its release.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Take this longing from my tongue... 5 Oct 2012
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
whatever useless things that these hands have done." The previous quote is a line from a Leonard Cohen song, with the eponymous subject title. He's still, or more properly, back on the concert circuit, and was recently in Toulon, which, with a bit of longitude, could be considered far eastern Provence. Peter Mayle felt a similar longing, and in the beginning of his book, he described it thus: "We had talked about it during the long grey winters and damp green summers, looked with an addict's longing at photographs of village markets and vineyards..." Provence is hardly a secret; it is a destination of choice for the "au courant," starting with at least Caesar's troops, who might be granted a farm there for their retirement if they lived that long. Do you hear that, Veterans Administration?

Mayle, who is English, wrote this charming account of a year there in 1989. It has become a classic of sorts, with millions of copies now in print. Supposedly, the Japanese tour buses would weave through the narrow streets of Ménerbes so they could take a picture of his now renovated house. Mayle had been an advertising executive, managed to accumulate a few coins, "saw the light," chucked it all, and actually fulfilled his dream, and that of his wife, and perhaps the dog's also. Provence was no longer just a vacation destination; it became his home when he purchased one in the countryside, along the northern base of the Luberon massif. It is a year's account, commencing in January, with a chapter devoted to each month. The hardback version which I acquired shortly after it was originally published is warmly illustrated, with black and white sketches, by Leslie Forbes.

The "tongue" is reflected in perhaps 30% of the book; a loving description of the food, and the many meals prepared.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If you've been to Provence this summer, then read this book, it captures life in rural France so well!
Published 10 days ago by Jane Parvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As described. no problemsw
Published 14 days ago by TFD
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love A Year in Provence
Reading it now! Love love love A Year in Provence.
Published 21 days ago by Mrs. Kirsty L. Clelland
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and easy read
This is the first book I have read in ages, usual excuses apply "busy life and no time". The book is particularly interesting to me as my wife and I have wanted to buy a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gareth Burke
4.0 out of 5 stars A Year in Provence
I read this book many years ago and decided to retread it as I was going To Provence. It is an easy read and very humorous. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J C Hough
5.0 out of 5 stars A Year in Provence
An excellent read. Peter Mayle has captured the essence of rural Provence with his descriptions, often hilarious, of the various activities occurring throughout the year.
Published 3 months ago by E. M. Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing light reading
I found this amusing, very readable, and full of the flavour of Provence and French provincial life. Or so I imagine. Haven't been, so can't say for sure. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs Margaret E Derrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely insight into life in Provence
I loved this book as I am spending some time in Provence this year and it gave a good indication of the different months and seasons. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs O F Edgar
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Such an enjoyable read. First time I read it I almost packed my bags and headed off to Provence. An entertaining writer.
Published 5 months ago by Peter Alfred Deacon
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good
It had kept me wanting more all the way through the book and I am now downloading the follow on
Published 5 months ago by andy
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Popular Highlights

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rue Frédéric Mistral while there are still seats to be had at Chez Gu. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users
‘Go to Le Paradou,’ she told us, ‘and have lunch at the café. And make sure you’re there by noon.’ &quote;
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two basic requirements for a rural notaire are a blind eye and a diplomatic bladder. &quote;
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