Posted by: istop4books | February 2, 2011

A YEAR IN PROVENCE BY PETER MAYLE

I read a couple of reviews on goodreads for this book and had to laugh at some of those who felt the book was whiney and written by a rich guy who could afford a super farmhouse with a pool no less! One review said that Mayle went back to England to live. Well – those reviews smack of small minded jealousy. Right now a farmhouse in France can be bought for as little as US$250,000.00; back in 1989 before this became trendy, property values were even more reasonable, especially coming from England where everything was/is expensive. It was kind of like selling your million dollar house in San Francisco and moving to Iowa – you could buy the entire town for the price of your modest house in California. I don’t think Mayle whined about the repairs to his house – in fact, he took it lightly and with a clear dose of patience and humor. Kudos to the Mayles to manage their money well enough to be able to enjoy the lifestyle which I don’t believe it was at all over the top.

Anyhow – I just had to say that.

Now for the book. I loved this book. I curled up with a glass of wine (Chilean, sorry) and read this in a couple of evenings. I laughed and laughed and commiserated with the Mayles. The writing is witty and the pace is excellent. It’s a romp through Provence over the course of a year. Peter and his wife have left behind their lives in England to move to Provence, buy a farmhouse and settle in to a slower pace of life. The story starts with the formidable paperwork process in buying a house, and reminded me of the process my son has gone through to rent a simple apartment in Brazil. Frustrating to the point of being funny. Mayle goes on to beautifully describe the climate, which is so different from common knowledge (again, very similar to our Brazilian experience); the absolutely mouthwatering gastronomic descriptions, locals, tourists, and then the never ending quest to fix the house. This part in particular reminded me of the time we bought a “fixer-upper” right on the beach in a beautiful town in Chile, and went through so many similar situations with repairmen and guests. At the time it drove us crazy, but now we look back at those times with a bit more fondness. In any case, Mayle brings the area to life, and does so in a light engaging way.

 

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