A Year in Provence,
by Peter Mayle
Reviewed by Laura K. Lawless
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One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, A Year in Provence is a light-hearted autobiography as well as a travel/restaurant guide and cultural study of the south of France. Peter Mayle, once a British businessman, has finally chucked it all and bought a house in Provence with his wife and two dogs. He recounts a year of their adventures living and working amid the French, including daily struggles with the strong Provençal accent, the nosiness of neighbors, and the self-proclaimed experts on everything from geophysics to truffle hunting. His humorous yet affectionate approach will make you long for France, particularly the south, whether or not you've ever been there.You won't be able to stop laughing when you read about the author's discovery of French bureaucracy and the bone-chilling winter wind called the Mistral, his desperate tactical maneuvering to get his house remodeled, and the hordes of rude tourists. You'll be tickled by his observations of French greetings and body language. You'll love his French neighbors and hate his English friends. And you will be starving after reading his mouth-watering descriptions of dozens of restaurants and dinner parties.
Whether you are interested in learning more about French, "the Hexagon," or cuisine française, A Year in Provence is the book to get you started on your cultural discovery of the south of France. The best discovery of all is that Peter Mayle continues to write about Provence, both non-fiction and novels. You will definitely want to seek out all of his books and continue learning about the people, traditions, and food of southern France.
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