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December - World Book #12 - A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle

Rounding out the first year of our trip around the world, I thought we'd stop in the sunny region of Provence, France, to give us something to dream about during the New Jersey winter.

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.

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  • Aparna

    Nice to see the familiar friendly faces again. Also, glad for the opportunity to talk to a new group of people and hear their travel experiences. As usual, we veered way off the book, which made it a lot of fun.

    1 · December 10, 2013

    • Deepa

      Glad to hear it went well!

      December 11, 2013

  • JSeguritan

    An abridged review of the book I submitted on Amazon based on our discussion:

    In “A Year in Provence”, Peter Mayle leaves a career on Madison Avenue and uproots his life into the quaint and quirky region of Provence, located in Southeast France. Mayle and his wife realize they have much to learn in navigating their new surroundings. The novel’s structure is quite simple—each chapter is a month in the year—but Mayle’s observations cut into the essence of Provencal life, not just the hidden gems and signature qualities of the region, but reaches for the underlying motivations of the people, the way they think, and why no one seems to leave. Part of the enchantment is meeting all these characters—the plumber, the reclusive neighbor, the unwanted guests. The prose is simplistic but engaging, particularly when Mayle sprinkle small tidbits that echo latent cultural rivalries. One word of caution: don’t read on an empty stomach!

    1 · December 10, 2013

  • Jane

    Mayle wrote a sequel to this book, short tales--Toujours Provence.

    November 6, 2013

    • JSeguritan

      Have you read this sequel, and if so, would you recommend it? Kinda curious how this book would be followed up based on how "A Year in Provence" concluded.

      December 9, 2013

    • Jane

      Yes; I read it and also watched the movie. It's not really a sequel but a compilation of 13 short stories which expands on the book. The movie has some of the vignettes of both books. I enjoyed both; short read; movie was fun to watch too.

      December 9, 2013

  • Jean G.

    I did some looking for restaurants, too, and none are inexpensive. Rat's is okay if you get a special tasting event, but it's also not open for dinner on Mondays.

    December 6, 2013

    • JSeguritan

      It would've been nice to have local French dining options as affordable as those described in the book. I also had a passing thought of the new downtown Princeton restaurant "Mistral" given its particular resonance in the book, but again the same issue. :(

      December 9, 2013

  • JSeguritan

    We'll certainly miss your insightful questions & observations on this book, Deepa, but our hopes lie in your personal emergency & safe travels!

    Based on the novel, my initial impression is that Provence is a quaint & quirky region with its own hidden gems and intriguing cast of characters. And while there's an inevitable disconnect between the sublime joys of vacationing and the realities of living there, there are deeper layers of appreciation that emerge upon taking residence. I'm not sure how today's technologies would influence or penetrate the rustic serenity of Provencal countryside life depicting a time as late as 1989 (when this novel was published) but their insatiable longing for gastronomic bliss has timeless appeal and never relented in making me crave the very foods they were indulging in. Despite the lack of a distinctive narrative plot thrust, it was an enjoyable read that kept me engaged--especially in mapping small tidbits that echo strong, latent cultural rivalries.

    December 9, 2013

  • Julia

    Take care Deepa and safe trip!

    1 · December 8, 2013

  • Deepa

    My sincere apologies for this last minute change. I have just learned of a personal emergency that is requiring me to be in Chicago on Monday through Wednesday of this week. Because of that, I will unfortunately not be able to attend this month's Meetup. I notice that many of the regulars are scheduled to be in attendance, and so I am confident that the Meetup will run smoothly even without me there to "moderate". I have called TGI Friday's and a table should be ready for you. I wish all of you a wonderful discussion, a safe and happy holiday season, and look forward to many more book discussions in the new year.
    Thanks for your understanding,

    December 8, 2013

  • Deepa

    So far the only French-ish place I can find that can hold us locally is Rats at Grounds For Sculpture, and I think that's too pricy, so we may be at TGI Fridays again for French onion soup. I'll post once I know for sure tomorrow.

    December 3, 2013

  • Aparna

    Deepa, wondering where this one will be held??

    December 1, 2013

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