Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tribute to Provence

Front Cover

Reading Peter Mayle’s A Good Year is a little like ambling through your Provençal village’s marché. You marvel at the booths’ bright colors, pungent aromas, and artistic arrangements. Over the weeks, you get to know olives, chèvre, pain de compagne, and légumes vendors’ personalities and stories. Occasionally, when you witness a bit of drama, you learn to discern friend from foe among villagers. Like other Peter Mayle novels, A Good Year is unabashed paean to life in Provence. I savored every minute of this book, and although the story has a satisfying ending, I didn’t want it to end because I wanted to continue vicariously tasting this charmed life.

Part humor, part romance, part intrigue, A Good Year tells of Londoner Max Skinner’s adapting to a new life in his recently deceased uncle’s modest chateau in Saint-Pons. The main mystery involves the vineyard Max inherited with the house: Why is some of its wine undrinkable and some among the finest anywhere? As Max and his uncle’s long-time vigneron unravel this mystery, subplots abound.

I had bought and read this novel when it first came out in 2004. Since then, I’ve seen the movie by the same name three times. My most recent viewing prompted me to reread the book. Book and movie are significantly different, but with similar lighthearted tone.

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