Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France

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9780679441243: Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France
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The author continues his celebration of Provence in a new collection of culinary delights, profiles of colorful Gallic characters, and personal observations

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Review:

Poor Peter Mayle and his wife tried to live other places, but after four years away from Provence--they'd settled into a house outside East Hampton, Long Island--they realised they were hopelessly homesick. They missed the smell of thyme in the fields and the Sunday morning markets. They missed the slower pace. Mostly, they missed the small moments that make up the texture of daily life in Provence--eating, of course; a conversation on a street corner; an impromptu game of boules.

Happily, the Mayles knew when it was time to go home. Encore Provence resonates not only with the acute perspective of someone who is supremely glad to be back on French turf, but also with the wit and relief of a refugee who has a solid American yardstick by which to measure the good life. The Mayles had tried valiantly to adapt to American culture: they learned about California wines, they shopped by mail, they took vitamins, they tried to watch television, they attempted to watch their cholesterol; there was even a period when they tried to be good citizens and drink eight glasses of water a day.

Can the author of A Year in Provence andToujours Provence possibly have anything more to say about the sunny south of France? Yes, especially when he's chronicling his newfound dual roles as an expert in all things American ("we are in some way considered responsible for the spread of American tribal customs," he writes, "everything from le fast-food to les casquettes de baseball, which have begun to appear on previously bare French heads") and as a defender of all things Provencal.

Mayle sounds most defensive in a chapter devoted to former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, who penned a Times piece chronicling a bad vacation in Provence and then wrote off the entire region, concluding that she'd "been dreaming of a Provence that never existed." For Mayle, that Provence is clearly alive and well, if--as he aptly demonstrates in a lighthanded chapter entitled, "Eight Ways to Spend a Summer's Afternoon" (pretending to read, planning your own chateau)--you're in the right state of mind to savour it. --Kimberly Brown

Review:

"[Peter Mayle] is something of a wonder. . .chronicling the scene around him in irresistible prose, the joys of a bountiful climate, brilliant sun, and a splendid cuisine." --"Time" "Grab a Pastis and settle in for a scintillating rendezvous. Mayle's insights have never been more thoughtful." --"San Francisco Chronicle" "Delightful, amusing, and appealing." --"The New York Times Book Review" "Mayle's prose is, as ever, as pure and welcoming as a glass of the house wine at a Provencal cafe." --"The Philadelphia Inquirer"

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