Cover Illustration by Ruth Marten.
I seem to have drifted into mainstream summer reading territory with this book, and I quite enjoyed it. After fifteen years in advertising, the author decides to buy a house in the French countryside of the Lubéron, known for it’s small picturesque villages, wine production, and excellent food. It seems an idyllic place to live and write about, and it is, but there are some caveats. The old stone farmhouse is in a perfect spot surrounded by a national park so it can’t become too developed, but the house needs lots of work. Hiring locals to do that work is the first of many friendships forged and humorous adventures and escapades survived. Mayle writes about the people of his new home with wit, insight and love. Yes, he’s highlighting their quirks, faults and bad behavior at times, but also their passions, warm-hearted generosity, and kindness. There are plenty of gastronomic adventures, lessons in growing and harvesting wine grapes, local festivals and customs, and Mayle has many funny things to say about both his own English foibles and habits as well as the French ones.
The writing of this book is a great pleasure to read and savor. If only the amazing meals and drinks came with! Highly recommended. Two more in the same vein are waiting.