Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence was my first "travel" book to read. It was the book club choice for the month of March. While it seems that the majority of the people in the group found it to be a bit dull, I found it to be quite delightful and entertaining!

Peter and his wife move to Provence, France (from London) after vacationing there and falling in love with the small town. A Year in Provence is an account of their first year, broken up into chapters by month, and told from Peter's point of view. From the surprisingly frigid "Mistral" winds that greeted them in January, to the completion of their never-ending home renovations right before Christmas, the book is chock-full of amusing anecdotes and quaint villagers. There are goat races, annoying and unexpected houseguests, home renovations that never seem to end, and an eccentric and crusty old neighbor-- just to mention a little of what Peter experiences during his first year.

One of my favorite things about this book is the almost constant description of food! The people of Provence always seem to be eating all kinds of freshly baked bread, olives, various types of cheeses, and far more interesting sounding dishes than anything I normally eat, and always with plenty of wine. Also interesting is the descriptions of the various customs, and how Peter and his wife had to learn to decipher not only the French language, but also the body language and facial expressions common to the region.

The lifestyle they adopted was SO much more laid back than what they were used to in London. It sounded quite appealing to me! The only negative I found is that I would have liked Peter to be a little more personal. He gives very little information about his wife, their relationship, and their former life in London. But, since this was a travel memoir (I think that is the appropriate genre?), more emphasis was placed on what Peter was seeing and doing and less on what his personal thoughts and relationships were like. I still really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it!

Date completed: March 2009
Number of pages: 207


Trish said...

First, Yay for the review! Second, I'm so glad that you liked this one. I wanted it to be much more personal (as you know), but I loved loved loved the food bits as well. I wish there were some yummy recipes included. Oh, and the cheese Michelle brought to the meeting was the best part about reading this book. :)

Literary Feline said...

I don't think I've ever read a travel memoir. I have a couple on my shelf to try. This sounds like an interesting one--but perhaps not the best choice to read on an empty stomach. At least not the parts about food :-)

charley said...

I have not read this, but I enjoyed the BBC mini-series. A travel/food book that I loved was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, which may be due for a re-read one of these days. Nice review!