I am a big fan of Peter Mayle and his 1993 Hotel Pastis, a novel of Provence, did not disappoint. It has all sorts of things going for it.
1. It takes place in London and Provence.
2. The main characters include Simon, newly divorced and fed up with his life as a London ad agency executive who gets out of the rat race and opens the high-class Hotel Pastis in a small village in Provence; Ernest, Simon's 'man' of exquisite taste who takes on planning and organizing the opening of hotel along with some help from his bulldog Mrs. Gibbons; and Nicole, Simon's love interest and partner in the hotel whom he conveniently meets on his very first visit to the village.
3. The book is filled with beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes all eating beautiful food.
4. There are amusing gentle jabs at journalists, advertising agencies, chefs, vineyard owners, workmen, artists, and corporate bigwigs.
5. There is a bank robbery gang on bicycles.
What's not to like?
While the hotel gets ready for its grand opening, along the way we meet all sorts of folks: the menacing Enrico with his 'protection' racket; The General who masterminds the bank robbery; Caroline, Simon's ex-wife who is always looking for some way to get even more alimony; William, Simon's ne'er-do-well uncle who comes to Hotel Pastis to sponge off his nephew and help himself to his cigars and liquor; and Crouch the sour British journalist who fights any changes made in the village tooth and nail and yet has a dirty little secret of his own.
There are many more, of course. Some merely stroll across the pages, champagne glass in hand, and some stay for a while. Each one will bring a smile.
This book truly swept me away to Provence. Not a bad place to be.