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3.9 out of 5 stars43
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Twelve years ago, Peter Mayle gifted us with "A Year In Provence", an account of this expatriate Brit's plunge into Gallic life, revolving around the pleasures and pitfalls of establishing a residence in rural France in an old country house that was somewhat of a "fixer-upper". Several Provence-related books later, and after a period of time living on Long Island, Peter and his wife return to the land they (and we) love. The result is "Encore Provence". The latest book doesn't hold together as well as "Year", the elements of the latter forming a more cohesive whole. However, "Encore" is certainly much better than some of his other books written in the interim.
In "Encore", Peter briefly revisits several topics covered in the original, as well as several more which were apparently overlooked. The range is quixotic: the cultivation of olive trees, an explanation of the three grades of virgin olive oil, the smelly art of selecting fragrances for designing perfumes, foie gras as the key to longevity, discovering the perfect corkscrew, touring Marseille, the almost-underworld of the village truffle market, how to execute the Provençal full shrug, the obligatory elements of the Provençal village, and, umm ..... the shotgun murder of an amorous meat cutter. And, of course, many hedonistic references to the local food and wine. All are treated in the utterly charming and dryly humorous Mayle-style that makes his books so delightful.
Bravo and merci beaucoup, Mr. Mayle! You've provided another enjoyable spice to my life.
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on 17 January 2001
Rejoice, armchair travelers - Provence's most engaging booster is at it again! With deft pen and quick wit intact Peter Mayle offers another paean to his promised land, Encore Provence, in which, among other Provencal perks, he delineates the salubrious effects of a 3-hour lunch, and the gastronomical satisfaction found at a village boulangerie. After a four year hiatus in America, Mr. Mayle has returned to the lavender fields and picturesque dwellings of his chosen paradise on earth - southern France. As he describes his second residency with great good humor and affection, Encore Provence becomes a billet-doux to the places and people of that region. No longer the wide-eyed, exuberant Francophile we found in A Year In Provence(1995) and Toujours Provence (1991), he is now a more sophisticated, experienced resident - on to recalcitrant workmen who say neither yes or no, but only "c'est possible," and now convinced that "hurried eating has ruined more digestive systems than foie gras."
That enlightened mecca where wine's first sip is greeted with a "shudder of appreciation" has welcomed him home. He warmly returns its embrace, as he delightedly attests through anecdotal narrative and assiduously drawn, smile-provoking portraits of idiosyncratic Gallic friends.
For starters, we learn of a handsome village butcher who favors housewives with more than choice cuts. Such generosity results in his untimely demise, but "everyone turned out the day they buried the butcher. They all had their reasons." We are inducted into the mysteries of buying a new car, cheerfully informed of the essentials of a proper village, and taken on a cook's tour of Marseille, where it is suspected "that not only fish are changing hands at the daily market on the Quai des Belges."
Lucien Ferrero, we discover, has "a nose in a million," having "personally created more than two thousand perfumes," and we accompany the author as he zealously pursues the elusive perfect corkscrew.
When asked by future visitors when the best time is to come to Provence, Mr. Mayle sidesteps that persistent query with "after lunch."
"Only then," he explains, "can you take full advantage of the long and unencumbered afternoon that lies ahead. The bill is paid, the last mouthful of rose' swallowed, the empty bottle upended in the ice bucket as a farewell salute to the waiter."
The author finds that one of his most daunting tasks is trying to convince guests of the necessity of a siesta, for they've arrived in Provence "with their work ethics intact and their Anglo-Saxon distrust of self-indulgence poised to resist undisciplined, slightly decadent Mediterranean habits."
For those wishing to be convinced - the line forms behind me.
As always, Mr. Mayle is a witty, convivial, boon companion. Save for one chapter in which he lambastes a former New York Times food critic for her criticism of the area (perhaps a gentle braising would have sufficed rather than a full roast), Encore Provence is pure pleasure.
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on 28 June 2002
Having recently read and enjoyed "A Year in Provence" and "Toujours Provence", i was excited to see that a third book had been written.
Unfortunately i cannot agree with the other reviewers on this page as i found this book very disappointing.
Firstly, i was shocked to hear that the author had for many years abandoned his idyllic Provencal lifestyle for the hustle and bustle of the USA. Indeed, much of this book seems to have been written in New England as an afterthought.
Secondly, he rarely (if ever), adds anything new to the story, seeming to go over old ground in nearly all the chapters. Maybe i'm being unkind but ultimately the book seems to be composed mainly of discards from the previous two books. This appears to be an attempt to sell another book off the back of the success of the first two.
Regretfully, Mayle adds nothing more to what was originally a great story and i would unfortunately advise those of you who enjoyed the first two books to avoid this one.
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on 24 August 2000
After a ten year hiatus Peter Mayle is back and writing about life in his beloved Provence. His first two books cuased such a stir in the UK and inspired a massive tourism surge to Provence that Mayle both revered and hated.
This latest book, which to my mind is probably the best of the three, seems to tread carefully as though fully aware of what his words might bring to his adopted home.
Mayle creates an idyllic picture of life abroad, clearly thoroughly enjoys all his research into fine foods and wines (who wouldn't!). His pleasure and contentment seep from the pages making this book very easy and very delightful to read.
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on 16 July 1999
I have read each and one of Mayle's book and enjoyed all of them. However, after two books on Provence and always telling the story from the same angle, Mayle is starting to get repetitive. However, he still is a skillfull and witty writer and one can't help but enjoy his style.
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on 21 February 2009
Encore Provence
I gave this book together with "A Year in Provence" to my husband for Christmas. Once he had started to read he couldn't put either book down. I have since bought "Toujours Provence" which he has found equally amusing.
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on 22 May 2016
This is the third book in the Provence series and I have to say I did enjoy it as much as the first two. It gives an insight into the daily living in this part of France, and also a peek at bits we may not otherwise see.
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on 9 September 1999
This book proves there IS a limit to repeats. What a pity that earlier excellent works on Provence should be soured by this turgid work. Amazon should introduce a nul point category.
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on 12 November 2014
Compared to A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence this is a bit of a damp squib. Peter Mayles previous books were full of warmth, full of characters and provided an insight into the real France. Unfortunately Encore Provence fails to live up to the excellence of previous books, has no real characters, is short of story line and is probably a reflection of the authors absence from Provence for four years. A real shame.
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on 19 May 2014
More of the same from Peter Mayle, an enjoyable and gentle ramble through the peculiarities of rural France.Worth taking on Holiday or sunny afternoons with a nice drink. Not as good as A year In Provence or Toujours Provence; but if you have read them to death and want more that is similar but new(Ish) its worth a go.
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