Okay, I’ll bite. How about you? How about a year in sunny Southern France?

Book Review, A Year In Provence, Peter Mayle

A Year In Provence

Maybe one day I will pack my bags but, for now, I remain, a wistful armchair traveler. As such, Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence is one of my favorite trips. British by birth, he vacationed in France often and one time decided not to come home. Sounds like something I might do. He is a writer and his intent was to work on his fiction, but he found the people and customs of Provence so captivating that he recorded stories about them and his first book was born.

Peter Mayle lounging.

This is an Englishman’s book about France. Mayle is patient. Good gawd, he is patient. He is not as entirely comfortable with touching and hugging as the French are. And, at least in the beginning, while still learning the customs of country life,  he confesses to a typical English ‘charm,’ meaning that he moves through the countryside like a bull in a china shop compared to the French.

A large part of the book, and of his education, revolves around the renovation of his home. After finally settling upon some locals to perform the remodel, Mayle and his wife mostly wait. For months. Unlike anyone I would dream of hiring, these folks show up whenever they feel the urge. They might lay a stone or two or maybe build a wall if they’ve brought the right materials. Work, though, is secondary to visiting. And to drinking. And to eating. Probably why the locals live so long. If this is life in Provence, then I’m ready to pack. Assuming that one can pay one’s bills like this.

The writing is enchanting and simple. Mayle sees the world as mostly happy and it shines through his writing. Having to wait in line for another ten minutes doesn’t upset him nor does having to park the car while the goats pass. There are a lot of worthwhile life-lessons here.

A thoroughly enjoyable book.

Four stars.


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