A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle) – Review

A year in Provence A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Age: Adult
Genre: Memoir, travel
Format: Audio CD
Publisher: Books on CD, inc, 1992
7 discs
Find this book at your local library

Back cover synopsis:

Peter Mayle and his wife cherished the dream of someday living in Provence. Then it happened. They bought a two-centuries-old farmhouse and began the exhilarating, frustrating, joyful and satisfying task of restoration.

It was total immersion. From coping with freezing weather, to dealing with disarming and procrastinating local craftsmen, Mayle shares his strategies for survival and relishes the growing camaraderie with his country neighbors.

One of my first reasons for picking up this book was the vague hope that Mayle would talk about the city of Arles, where I spent a good portion of my honeymoon in April. Alas, he did not. But that is pretty much the only fault I found with this book. Its hilarious, its witty, and all the country neighbors Mayle meets and acquires are some of the most colorful people I have read about in ages.

I listened to the audio cd, read by David Case. I loved David Case’s narration. He was snarky when necessary and was able to get across the irony and befuddlement of certain scenes better than it would have been in print. I actually have the print copy of his book at home, but I could never read past the first chapter, despite my interest in the story.

The Mayles and their two dogs moved into a centuries old farmhouse in the Luberon of Provence in the late 1980s. Most people compare this book to Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. If you have to choose between the two, go with A Year in Provence. Mayle is able to poke fun at himself, at family and friends and pestering acquaintances who over stay their visit. Mayle is wonderfully descriptive. Frances Mayes spent too much time in her own head, and not enough time focusing on the people around her. What I liked about this book/CD is that it really felt more like a conversation, a story with Peter Mayle. David Case definitely brought that across in his reading, which made the mood of the book more intimate. I only wish there were pictures of the his Provincal neighbors and all the wonderfully delicious food that he ate. Oh, the food. My mouth watered at his descriptions.

Book 60 of 2011

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One response to “A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle) – Review

  1. Okay, this sounds all sorts of wonderful, will have to check it out!

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