Monday, July 28, 2014

A year in Provence

By Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle worked in advertising for a long time but quit to become a full time writer. He and his wife left England and moved to Provence, France. They bought an old farm house and proceeded to renovate it. This book is a fictionalized version of their first year in Provence.
In it they cope with the locals: the hunters, the repairmen, the wine makers, the farmers, the trufflers, and, best of all, the cooks. It's an orgy of classic French cooking, fresh meats, fresh vegs, fresh fruits, fresh breads and pastries, and bottle after bottle of local wines. Not a prepackaged food within sight.
All in all, Mayle makes Provence sound like heaven on earth. Except for the fact that it is full of tourists. And sometimes the weather is a little iffy.

I liked this book. I did think it was a tad condescending in its descriptions of the local people, but clearly affectionate in tone. Makes Provence sound very appealing, indeed. Probably somewhat glosses over the real Provence, as it mentions, just briefly, traffic jams and crime. However, I can see that it was likely a tremendous boost to tourism for the area, whether it needed it or wanted it. I think Mayle still lives there, though not in the same house as when the book was written. Apparently, his privacy was ruined after the book became such a huge success and the house became a tourist attraction.

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