Rediscover: A Year in Provence

In the late 1980s, advertising executive turned aspiring author Peter Mayle relocated from England to southern France, where he and his wife (plus two dogs) bought a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the Lubéron countryside. Mayle's move meant a big change from decades of globetrotting and transatlantic commuting, chasing a bucolic vision of long meals, good wine and slow schedules with plenty of time to work on a novel. But Provence itself proved the real story. Mayle's memoir of French country living, A Year in Provence (1989), brought an honest, humorous eye to a paradisaical place not without its share of problems. Surprisingly strong weather, shady truffle dealers and workers working on their own time provided their own headaches--more than offset by Provençal cooking. Each chapter covers a month in Ménerbes, the hilltop commune made famous by Mayle's writing.

Though Peter Mayle eventually relocated to Long Island to escape fans and sightseers in Provence, he moved back to France prior to his death last January. He did get around to writing several novels, including A Good Year, which was adapted by Ridley Scott into a film starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. Mayle's final book, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now (Knopf), comes out today. A 20th-anniversary edition of A Year in Provence is available from Vintage Departures ($15.95, 9780679731146). --Tobias Mutter

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