Published: 1991 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Source: my copy purchased at the library book sale
In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.
Is it enough just to tell you that when I was last at the library book sale, just after I finished this book, I picked up Mayle's A Good Year on audio?
In A Year In Provence, Mayle immerses his readers in the culture, food, customs, and land of Provence in a way that truly is witty and warm-hearted. Divided into the twelve months of his first year in France, Mayle takes advantage of the changing seasons to share the things he and his wife learned.
January, for example, turned out to be much colder in Provence than expected...made all the more unpleasant by the fact that there was no central heat in their new home. As things work in Provence, only a party for the workers in December convinced the those workers to get the heating system ready in time for the next winter. They definitely go at their own pace in Provence. They are also, apparently, terrible drivers, avid hunters, and slaves to governmental paperwork.
And, of course, there's the food:
"The cheese was from Banon, moist in its wrapping of vine leaves, and then came the triple flavors and textures of the desserts - lemon sorbet, chocolate tart, and creme anglaise all sharing a plate. Coffee. A glass of marc from Gigondas. A sigh of contentment. Where else in the world, our friends wondered, could you eat so well in such unfussy and relaxed surroundings?"
You might find yourself thinking you'd like to visit Provence. Heaven knows that everyone the Mayles ever met thought nothing of imposing on them all through the warm weather. The natives don't necessarily want your company, though. Sure they understand that their economy relies on the business but they can't wait to get their restaurants back to themselves where they can resume their regular spots and they don't have to listen to tourists complaining about the restroom facilities. Don't ask; you don't want to know.