Friday, January 26, 2018

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Image result for luberon france peter mayle house
Peter Mayle
la vie en rose

I mentioned last week the recent death of author Peter Mayle. His novels and crime capers that mostly take place in the south of France are loads of fun. Since it is always appropriate to travel to France, I decided to reread his A Year in Provence and see how it held up after 30 years.

I am happy to report that it is still as funny and fresh as it was when it was first published in 1989. 

Mr. Mayle takes the reader through his first year after buying a home in the LubĂ©ron in Provence. Originally from England, he and his wife (I don't believe she is ever named) look forward to settling in to life in an area they had often visited. 

Things go well at first, but... 

Well, we start the tale in January and just as the ex-pats are thinking perhaps they will be enjoying their pool soon, the Mistral comes blowing across the region bringing frigid temperatures and the sound of bursting frozen water pipes. This, of course, leads to calling the plumber who is the first of many local characters who are introduced throughout the year.

In February, the area is covered in snow and they decide it would be wise to invest in central heating.  In March, they learn to deal with the random hours of the workmen hired to remodel the kitchen. There is also a lesson in truffle hunting. 

In April, friends of friends and acquaintances of acquaintances begin calling and hinting that they would love to come for a visit and houseguests begin to arrive. In May, the couple take to their bicycles and find it is a painful way to navigate the steep hills of the region.  

That is as far into the year as I have read. I savor one chapter/month each night before bed.

It is a pleasure to hang out with the couple and the many characters they meet as they make headway into becoming a part of the weft and warp of the culture. There is plenty of delicious food and wine as always and I enjoy reading Mr. Mayle's wry observations on life lived the French way.

There are two more books recounting his adventures — Toujours Provence and Encore Provence. More tales to look forward to.

If you haven't had a chance to read A Year in Provence or if it has been a while since you first read it, go ahead and pick it up. I don't think you will be disappointed. Besides, who doesn't want to spend a little time in Provence?


  1. I could swear I read A Year in Provence, but it's not on my Books Read list. I do see that I read Toujours Provence and A Dog's Life. I'll have to remedy that after we move and we get sorted out.

  2. Hi, Joan. It is hard to keep track of books, I know. I had to go to the library to get a copy of AYIP but find that I have a hardcover edition of Toujours Provence on my bookshelf. I can't remember if I have read that one! Sometimes I just pick up books at random book sales - I'm sure you can identify! Hope you are making progress on your move.

  3. I think I've read all three of the Provence books, but it may be that I just read the first one and watched the BBC miniseries. Whatever the case, I'm happy to hear the stories stood up well over time. I'm sure I will reread them, as I love to read about people traveling and living overseas.

    1. Hi, Kathy. I read that AYIP started the whole genre of books about living in another country - not sure about that claim - but I too enjoy reading of the experiences of dealing with another culture.

  4. I'd like to actually spend some time in Provence reading this book! :D

    1. Lark, best idea ever! Thanks for the laugh!