A Year In Provence, written in 1989 still remains as poignant now as it was then. The month-by-month account of Provencal life by acclaimed writer Peter Mayle brings the sleepy quarter of Provence alive as he details the land along with its ecclectic selection of inhabitants from foxes to truffels, le champignons (mushrooms) to new found neighbours.
The beauty of this book is that it can be picked up and read as a novel, providing a blissful escape from the monotony of life where you can immerse yourself in the timelessness of a French paradise abundant with rich food, great wine, exotic language, humerous characters and the feeling that nothing else in life really matters. Yet on another level this book is the perfect travel guide providing vital insider information on food, travel and beginners language in Provence making it understandable why it was awarded Travel Book of The Year (1989). You wont find the typical travel text books' do's and don'ts but what you will find is 197 pages (1989 edition) brimming with food and wine descriptions, regions to visit and why, monthly climates and enough simple french terms to deem you a novice speaker by the end.
This book could, and rightly should, be regarded as the first travel book of its kind, as an individual masterpiece that set the wheels in motion for the avalanche of writers who took the same approach in years to come. Most importantly it is unique and has an edge many other books of its kind just don't seem to grasp. Mayle's written word has the power to make you laugh out loud, shiver through the bleak winter, salivate at the delicious array of foods and suprisingly make you feel like you have actually been to Provence. Better still, reading A Year in Provence has the power to make you book your plane ticket there so you get to personally experience the beauty of this region.
There is no sensational climax but it is as captivating none the less with little more than a hilarious re-count of a self absorbed year based primarily around the house and surrounding valley. This in itself provides more than enough entertainment for the reader who can laugh at the daily details of Mayle's life which are at times dull and frustrating yet always humerous and never disappointing.