Book Review, A Year In Provence, Peter Mayle

A Year In Provence

Maybe one day I’ll pack my bags, but for now, I remain a wistful armchair 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 one time decided not to leave. He intended to work on his fiction but found the people and customs of Provence so captivating that he recorded 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 quite as comfortable with touching as the French, and, at least while still learning the customs of country life, he has a typical English ‘charm’ about him. Something akin to bull in a china shop compared to the natives.

A large part of the book, and 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 working folks show up whenever 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 always secondary to visiting. And to drinking. And to eating. If this is life in Provence, I’m ready to pack. Assuming, of course, that one can pay the bills like this.

Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle

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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