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 Lubéron 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?