Review: A Year in Provence

Author: Peter Mayle
Year published: 1989
Genre: Biography, living abroad
Where got: Charity shop

Just finished reading this book (well, not really - this is a repost from 2004). It describes the first year Mayle and his wife spent in their Provence farmhouse, sometime in the 1980's.

The story is set up in 12 chapters, each of which covers one month of the year. The two main threads that hold the story together and prevent it from being just a rambling collection of anecdotes are on the one hand their relationship with their rascally old neighbour Massot and his fight to keep tourists away from what he considers to be his land (actually part of a national park), and on the other the alterations being made to the house to make it fit for the Mayles to live in (i.e. installing modern conveniences like central heating) and their relationship with the workmen.

Pesky summer visitors make their appearance and are so sarcastically described that one wonders if they were likely ever to come back again after recognising themselves in the book (not that it would be a loss to the Mayles), delightful restaurants are visited and delicious meals consumed, and in the background the seasons change, each bringing its share of problems and delights. Even the travails of having a noisy crew of workmen apparently dismantling and reassembling the house on an irregular basis is made out to be not too bad - the Mayles are either a very tolerant couple or else Mr. Mayle has an exceedingly bad memory.

Rating: A nice, light read that would be suitable for taking along to while away time during a long-distance flight. Interesting enough that I have now got hold of the sequel and will review it later. 3 stars.


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