Book Review, A Year In Provence, Peter Mayle

A Year In Provence

Maybe one day I will actually pack my bags but for now I remain a wistful arm chair traveler. As such, Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence has become one of my favorite trips. British by birth, he vacationed in France often and on his last trip decided not to leave. His intent was to work on his fiction but he found the people and customs of Provence so captivating that he began to record stories about them and his first book was born.

This an Englishman’s book about France. Mayle is patient. Good gawd,  he is patient. He is not entirely comfortable with touching as the French are. And, at least in the beginning, while still learning the customs of country life,  he has a typical English ‘charm’ about him. This is something akin to bull in a china shop compared to the French.

Most of the book, and most of his education, revolves around the renovation of his home. After finally settling upon some locals to perform the remodel, Mayle and his wife mostly wait. For months. Completely unlike anyone I would dream of hiring, these folks show up when ever they feel the urge. They might lay a stone or two or maybe build a wall if they’ve brought the correct materials. But work is generally secondary to visiting. And to drinking. And to eating. If this is life in Provence then I’m ready to pack. Assuming, of course, that one can pay their bills like this.

The writing is enchanting and simple. Mayle sees the world as mostly happy and it shines through his writing. Having to wait in line for another ten minutes doesn’t upset him nor does having to park the car while the goats pass. There are a lot of worthwhile life-lessons here.

A thoroughly enjoyable book.

Four stars.


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