This is a famous book, it tells of an Englishman who fell in love with Provence and moved to a small village in Luberon. As the title suggests; the book covers a year from January to December.
The Luberon sounded different in spring. Birds who had been ducking all winter came out of hiding now the hunters were gone, and their song replaced gunfire.
Mayle moved to France in the late eighties. The book is a drily amusing look at getting an old farmhouse renovated, when the French workers have a “mañana, mañana” attitude, a sharp contrast to the anglo-saxon work ethic. Each month has its own essence, the cold Mistral blows through the pages, making its presence felt, especially in the winter and spring months. The locals are colourfully painted with their tall tales of how to cook fox. The book will appeal to foodies with Provençal dishes lovingly described from the aperitif to make a trou (hole) in the stomach, to the last sliver of bread to mop up the dregs of olive oil at the end.
The whining about the slow pace of the renovations, I found a little tedious and I’m no gastronome. If I want culinary inspiration, I go to the YouTube channel Laura in the Kitchen, where a personable Italian-American shows how to make delicious food simply and quickly.
My six years in France (1991 to 1997) were spent mostly in Brie (just east of Paris) with the final six months in Corsica, which was heavenly if you didn’t have to work for a living. Unlike Peter Mayle, I was in no position to play Lord of the Manor, I had no minions working in my vineyard. The book was a bestseller and inspired many affluent middle class Brits to invest in French property.
My rating : three out of five