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A Year in Provence Paperback – Illustrated, 12 Apr 1990


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (12 April 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330312367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330312363
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 974,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Peter Mayle's work has been translated into twenty two languages. His previous books include A Year in Provence, Toujours Provence and his recent novels Anything Considered and Chasing Cezanne, available from Penguin. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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THE YEAR BEGAN with lunch. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Julie on 15 Jun 2003
Format: Paperback
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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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By phunt@antennaaudio.net on 28 Mar 2002
Format: Paperback
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David D. Madden on 20 May 2002
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Molly reads on 8 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was first published in 1989 and I've been late getting to it. I read it this summer in the south of France. I was staying in a very quiet rural village - perhaps what the towns in Provence were at the time of Peter Mayle's writing. The book is set out in 12 chapters , one per month. So it covers the full seasons - from cold winter snows, to the mistral winds and the glorious summers. There are some good laughs in the book - particularly renovating the house. I enjoyed his descriptions of the food and his trips to various vineyards to purchase wine.
As a female reader , I would have like to have gotten to know his wife a little better - although mentioned throughout the book I didn't feel I got to know her well.
Overall, hugely enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jacques Tati on 30 Jun 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By B. Fearnhead on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Douglas P. Murphy on 4 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback
This book provides a very intimate view of the author's experiences during his first year of living in Provence in the southeastern part of France. Most of the experiences represent the every day ones we all go through e.g. hiring someone to do work on our house, meeting neighbors through a party, etc. However, the people in Provence have a decidedly different perspective and character, and thus these ordinary experiences appear strange, fascinating and entertaining. This effect comes in part from Mr. Mayle's wit, writing style and emotional reactions to the events of his life. I particularly liked his description of the dress (leather), method of arrival (motorcycle) and behavior and attitudes of students coming into a certain town-absolutely precious. As with the French, food and drink in a Mayle book take an exalted status.
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