From the moment Peter Mayle and his wife, Jennie, uprooted their lives in England and crossed the Channel permanently, they never looked back. Here the beloved author of A Year in Provence pays tribute to the most endearing and enduring aspects of his life in France—the charming and indelible parade of village life, the sheer beauty, the ancient history. He celebrates the café and lists some of his favorites; identifies his favorite villages, restaurants, and open-air markets; and recounts his most memorable meals. A celebration of twenty-five years of Provençal living—of lessons learned and changes observed—with his final book Mayle has crafted a lasting love letter to his adopted home, marked by his signature warmth, wit, and humor.
Fans of Mayle (who died in January) will be delighted by this final book from Provence's most impassioned booster. The memoir takes the form of delightfully quaint anecdotes from the years since Mayle and his wife, Jennie, escaped office life in New York and London in the 1980s for "a simpler, sunnier life" in Provence. The chapters alternate between self-deprecating accounts of settling into the rhythms of caf life ("the world seems to have gone pink," he says, referring to the preponderance of ros wines) and side notes on their favorite lunch spots (Chateau d'If, where the count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned). Mayle happily plays the transplanted Englishman, bemused by the habits of the curiously emphatic Continentals ("the nose plays a versatile part in French sign language"). He departs from cozy travelogue material for several unique experiences, such as being awarded the Legion d'Honneur or watching Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe make a movie out of one of his books. Composed in a uniformly bright and jocular voice, this is a breezy valedictory note for a much admired writer. Photos.