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A Year in Provence

By Peter Mayle, Peter Mayle (Narrator), Amy Newmark (Compiler), Mike Breen (Contributor) & William Theodore De Bary (Editor)
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Item Specifications...

Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 5.5"
Weight:   0.2 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Nov 1, 2004
Publisher   Macmillan Audio
ISBN  1593975376  
EAN  9781593975371  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
An account of the author's first year in Provence offers many examples of its local cuisine, tips for dealing with French contractors and truffle hunting, and discussions of his eccentric neighbors.

Publishers Description
More than 40,000 listeners have enjoyed this story on cassette. Now anyone who's ever dreamed of getting away from it all can enjoy the charms and challenges of A Year in Provence on CD
Peter Mayle and his wife had been to Provence as tourists. They had dreamed of one day trading the long, gray winters and damp summers of England for the blue skies and sunshine of the coast of southern France. And then they made it happen.
They moved into an old farmhouse at the foot of the Luberon mountains and embarked on a wonderful, if at times bewildering, new life. Among their experiences that first year: being inundated with builders and visitors, grappling with the native accent, taking part in goat races and supervising the planting of a new vineyard.
Peter Mayle personally recounts the pleasures and frustrations of Provenal life—sharing in a way no one else can, the unique and endearing culture that is Provence.
A Year in Provence was a New York Times bestseller for three years and won the British Book Awards' “Best Travel Book of the Year.”

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More About Peter Mayle, Peter Mayle, Amy Newmark, Mike Breen & William Theodore De Bary

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Peter Mayle spent fifteen years in the advertising business before escaping in 1975 to write books, including his bestselling "A Year in Provence "and "Toujours Provence." His work has been translated into seventeen languages and he has contributed to a variety of newspapers and magazines. He lives with his wife in Provence.
Robbins is Professor of Art Therapy at the Pratt Institute and a Founding Director of the Institute of Expressive Analysis. He is on the board of directors of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and has been on the faculty for over thirty years. He is also a New York State licensed psychologist and a graduate certified psychoanalyst.

Peter Mayle currently resides in Long Island, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Customs & Traditions   [754  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General   [17199  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Travel > Europe > France > General   [796  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Travel > General > Essays & Travelogues   [2889  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Year of Surprises  Nov 4, 2008
This book provides a very intimate view of the author's experiences during his first year of living in Provence in the southeastern part of France. Most of the experiences represent the every day ones we all go through e.g. hiring someone to do work on our house, meeting neighbors through a party, etc. However, the people in Provence have a decidedly different perspective and character, and thus these ordinary experiences appear strange, fascinating and entertaining. This effect comes in part from Mr. Mayle's wit, writing style and emotional reactions to the events of his life. I particularly liked his description of the dress (leather), method of arrival (motorcycle) and behavior and attitudes of students coming into a certain town-absolutely precious. As with the French, food and drink in a Mayle book take an exalted status.
A Year in Provence  Sep 11, 2008
Mayle's vision of Provence is mostly fantasy. It's true, the details of food and weather and habits are accurate, but it rings of 19th century English colonial patriarchy. The French "peasants" are portrayed like happy go lucky children living in a Romanticized garden of Eden uncorrupted by the real world of London and Paris. Mayle is the benevolent Patriarch in contrast to the towns cast of cartoonish personalities (it's no accident this book was adapted to a comedic TV series). If it was a novel at least there would be a plot, but instead it's a faux anthropological survey with Mayle studying the life and habits of local natives and imparting information for those back home who wish to follow his colonial ambitions (Mayle was in advertising). Its been said travel writing is stuck in the 19th century and this is a prime example of the genre with a modern voice. The book has been very popular - it really is very enjoyable at a certain level - but believing the fantasy and traveling there expecting a similar experience is being complicit in a form of modern day colonialism. Mayle apparently has since left Provence because the town changed - one can only imagine why.

With that said I enjoyed reading about Provence and plan to read Alphonse Daudet's `Lettres de mon moulin` or Letters From My Windmill published in 1869 - it is beloved in France and offers perhaps an authentic French perspective on the region just before modernization.
Part Travelogue; Part Love Letter  Jul 13, 2008
I'm probably the last person in the world to read this charming book. My interest was stirred by the Russell Crowe film A GOOD YEAR which has been running on the premium channels for the last two months.

The movie is heartwarming, witty, and full of sweet charm. Naturally I had to seek out the author of the book from which the movie was adapted. In doing so, I bought all of the other books written by Peter Mayle an ex-patriot Englishman living the life we all want to live in Provence.

Thus I began the first of his books A YEAR IN PROVENCE, his twelve-month epistle of establishing a new home in the Provençale region of France.

The articulate Mr. Mayle, a refugee from the advertising business, is of course articulate. More importantly though, he has a fondness for his subject matter and a humorous delivery that will at times make you smile and at other times make you roar with laughter.

The book is part travelogue and part love letter to Provence that will make you wish with every fiber of your being that you could find a similar Provençal farm house with land growing grape vines and fruit trees and shuck this rat race for the tranquil life described by Mr. Mayle.

If you haven't read this book, get a copy from your favorite online or local bookstore. I must warn you about one thing though. Don't do as I did initially and read a chapter at bedtime. The descriptions of the food consumed by the Mayles and their French neighbors and friends will make your mouth water. You'll find yourself in the kitchen uncorking a bottle of pinot noir and rooting through the fridge for a block of cheese.
Absolutely Delightful & Entertaining  Jun 29, 2008
I had not heard of this book until I was traveling last week, and a fellow traveler asked me in the Borders at the airport if I knew who had written "A Year in Provence". I did not know, but something in the title peaked my interest, so I googled it on my phone, found the author and read the excerpt on the publisher's site. I fell in love with the descriptions of Le Simiane's cuisine, and had to buy it (which I did as soon as I could find a local Borders).

I read it in 2 days - absolutely could not put it down, and I am certain there are some on the Metro in DC who felt as though I had lost my mind when I would suddenly burst into laughter at some highly entertaining little tidbit or description in the book.

Mayle has a dry wit (that British sangfroid perhaps?), that comes across clearly in his writing. I love his descriptions of how they (he and his wife) finally began to understand the "hand language" common in Provence and how "normalement" means anything from days to weeks! By the end of the book, I was already looking forward to starting "Toujours Provence".

Even though it is a travel diary of sorts, the book is absolutely a must read for anyone interested in the way the French peasants live...and of course the ultimate disdain they have for Les Parisiens (and all others as you will see through Massot's discussion of Germans, Swiss and Spanish campers).

Overall, this is an absolute delight - hats off to Mayle!!
Très délicieux  Mar 24, 2008
A Year in Provence begins with New Year's lunch and ends with Christmas lunch. Between the two meals is a memorable year full of characters (from eccentric neighbors and affable builders to aged chefs), forays into the countryside, unwelcome visitors, the Mistral, and, of course, gastronomic delights.

Without explanation, such as how they can afford it, Peter Mayle describes how he and his nameless wife buy an old farmhouse in the Lubéron, insulated from the greater world and from change by the public lands that surround them. With dry English detachment, Mayle settles into a life ruled not by the minutes of commerce ("time is money") but by the seasons and the opportunities each brings, whether it's goat races, boules, or fresh olive oil. Although puzzled at first by what the people do when the bitter winter Mistral blows, Mayle soon figures out that even this depressing and confining season has its products--babies.

To their credit, the Mayles seem willing to accept and adapt to the Provence pace of life rather than expecting to find the urban English experience to which they are accustomed. They accept that the builders will return tomorrow "normalement" and don't fuss when "tomorrow" is weeks later. Rather than becoming demanding and ugly, which would achieve nothing, they come up with a plan that motivates the builders to complete the house by Christmas. They choose to live in Provence on its terms, not theirs.

Mayle expertly portrays the foibles of each person he meets. As a farmer, his neighbor Faustin is ever the pessimist, seeing future clouds on sunny days. "As if his life were not already filled with grief, Nature had put a further difficulty in his way" (that is, the table and wine grapes have to be picked at separate times, giving both crops the opportunity to go bad).

Another neighbor, Massot, could be the stereotype of the American mountain man, mistrustful and fiercely independent. Of his fierce Alsatians he says, "They wouldn't be happy in a town. I'd have to shoot them." Mayle adds, "He turned off the path to go into the forest and terrorize some birds, a brutal, greedy, and mendacious old scoundrel. I was becoming quite fond of him." Mayle doesn't pass up an opportunity for irony. Massot says, "Every summer they [Germans] come here and put up tents and make merde all over the forest" as he tosses an empty cigarette packet into the bushes. Later Mayle talks about, "The Belgians . . . to blame for the majority of accidents . . . forcing the famously prudent French driver into ditches."

The author does not spare himself. Hearing shots and hoping that the local grocer had missed killing a sanglier, Mayle says of the French countryman, "Let him worship his stomach; I would maintain a civilized detachment from the blood lust that surrounded me . . . This noble smugness lasted until dinner [a wild rabbit] . . . The gravy, thickened with blood, was wonderful."

When Mayle isn't chatting with the neighbors, being advised by the local plumber-musician, despairing over how to move his heavy stone table, entertaining friends of friends and obnoxious advertising executives, or watching goat races, he is, of course, eating. He and his wife find culinary wonders in the "good, simple food" served inexpensively in the restaurants they visit. ". . . artichoke hearts, tiny sardines fried in batter, perfumed tabouleh, creamed salt cod, marinated mushrooms, baby calamari, tapenade, small onions in fresh tomato sauce, celery and chick peas, radishes and cherry tomatoes, cold mussels"--and those are just the hors d'oeuvres, served with "thick slices of pâté and gherkins, saucers of olives and cold peppers."

When it comes to food, Mayle's favorite adjective is "fresh," which captures difference between life as most of us know it and the charm of Mayle's life in the Lubéron. Pressed for the time by the pressures of suburban living, commuting, work in the city, and our consumerist culture, and detached from the land, we eat food that is packaged, preserved, and transported, and then sold to us at a time and distance from when and where it was produced. Most of us live and eat well, we believe, but at the price of stress and at the cost of the pure enjoyment Mayle finds every time he dines in Provence, where bread is launched "into a sea of fish soup" and "it was as if the sliced, wrapped, machine-made loaf had never been invented."

I began A Year in Provence out of curiosity about its popularity and soon found myself living vicariously through Mayle, savoring not only the food and the beauty and rhythms of the countryside that produces it, but the companionship and consideration of each person they meet. As Maurice, the chef who finds a way to provide the powerless, desperate, and grateful Mayles with their Christmas meal "at a tiny table between the kitchen door and the open fire, next to a large and festive family," says, "It's not the day to be without an oven." A Year in Provence shows how richly rewarding even a simple life can be when accepted on its own terms, without ego, assumptions, or demands.

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