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A Good Year (2005)

A Good Year (2005)

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3.57 of 5 Votes: 4
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0307277755 (ISBN13: 9780307277756)

About book A Good Year (2005)

The lovely and talented Mr. Russell Crowe was responsible for getting me to read Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander, which began my ongoing infatuation with the Aubrey-Maturin series. When I learned that his next movie, A Good Year, is based upon the novel of the same name by Peter Mayle, I figured what the hell, I should give this book a shot as well.I am told that this is one of Mr. Mayle's fluffier and more forgettable works. Me, I enjoyed it well enough, though that's about the summary I would give for it. The overall impression I came away with was one to the effect of "boy, this author really loves to go on and on about food and wine, doesn't he?" Certainly, the three different passages I can think of off the top of my head wherein a character goes into great detail about how to properly taste a wine and describe it almost stand out more clearly for me than the details of the actual plot.There are one or two parts that do stand out, though. Whenever our hero Max Skinner gets snarky, he's fun. The scene at the beginning where he gets fired from his job has satisfying snark in it, and arguments he has with his American cousin Christie give me a pretty good indication of what's going to be in the film version of this--especially when Christie hauls off and throws a skillet at Max's head. ;)From what I understand about the movie, they're going to play up the conflict between Max and Christie, which I think is going to be necessary to make the film more entertaining than the book. The book does raise the possibility of Christie having a better claim on Max's property than he does, but that plot thread gets dropped almost as soon as it's introduced. I also find myself hoping that the woman who winds up most catching Max's eye, as well, will get higher play in the movie than she does in the book.Mostly, though, I was amused by reading the book and visualizing Mr. Crowe in Max's role. From what I've seen of still shots from the set, he's got him nailed. But I don't know if anybody besides a Crowe fan or a wine aficianado would really find too much of substance here. It's definitely a bon bon of a book--tasty enough, but leaving almost no impression once it's done.

I've been an expatriate, and because of that experience I've come to enjoy the ex-pat novel. The travelogue of the weary voyager, the modern day Odysseus, floating on a breeze, relishing every experience that passes by, not entirely focused on going home (whatever home is).But while E.M. Forester captures this spirit perfectly, Mayle acknowledges a more complex feeling--the need, the irrefutable, undoubtable need for a link to one's past, in a way deeper than the language that Kipling uses, or the quiet psychology that Forester uses--Mayle revels in the alien nature of his protagonist, and in the protagonists conflict over everything he sees and encounters.Strangely though, this conflict is about the only one that Mayle's "Max" encounters. Lose a job--inherit a vineyard. Move to France--be welcomed unanimously. Try and grow a wine--SUCCEED--in one year!!! He also tries to create a conflict where every reader can tell that none exists. The random inclusion of a heretofore unknown American cousin begins a tremendous battle over the inheritance--which anyone with a pair of ears or eyes can tell is not really a battle, and the sexual innuendo that complicates Max's dalliances are stubbornly prolonged by avoiding the words: "she's my cousin." Convoluted conflict happens occasionally in literature, Still, the book is well written, with great measures of pathos and humor, little in-jokes and jabs at the French will sit well with anyone who has ever met anyone French. And the reading by John Lee is solid, though rather irritating when he affects a female American accent that somehow creeps me out. It was an amusing read, or in my case, listen, and it offered plenty of opportunity for reflection. But any book that makes me shake my head in desperate frustration as often as this one did, can't be truly great.

Do You like book A Good Year (2005)?

A Good Year, and a good book. Light and funny with a dry sense of humor, A Good Year takes you to the south of France and gives you a window into small town life there. From the unemployed and almost destitute Englishman that finds himself suddenly the heir to a small chateau, to the young California girl searching for her long lost father, the charming beauty who runs the local café, and the grouchy peasant farmer who works the vines with his dog, character fills the pages. Underlying everything is the mystery of a small block of vines at the edge of the property behind a rock wall. Along the lines of Karen’s Mitford or Gulley’s Harmony, but with characters whose moral compass doesn't quite point so far north, Mr. Mayle will take you to Provence, keep you smiling, and make you wish you could stay. Recommended.
—J.T. IV

I kind of only read this book because Ive enjoyed the movie. The difference between the two is pretty obvious from the very first pages. Not all characters appear in the two plots because they're built differently. I like Mayle's mild way of narration. Max's sexual adventures are not graphic nor emphasized but the atmosphere indicates that he's having a lot of fun in between the lines. Perhaps it's the first time I feel this way about a book but I prefer the movie (not only because Marion is my wife). I still like that the book introduces you to the real life of Provence, teaches you a little about wine industry, savoir vivre in France and the stereotypes entre les Américains et les Anglais, and present Les Français as a good observer. The movie was too French for the average liking and so is the book. Not to me though. I loved the rude sharp french expressions which are used to describe the surroundings. E.g: The wine of "le coin perdu" is described as "Jus des Chaussettes" meaning "socks juice", LOL. I would recommend the book for a plane, train or a car trip.

The reason I decided to read this book was because one of my favourite films, also called A Good Year, was based on it. But yes, there are quite a few major plot differences between the two, but I won't go into the specifics of that now. But know what ? These differences actually, intrigued me more than annoy... The way Mayle describes the beautiful French countryside is so blissful and inviting. It made me feel like I was stepping into the story – like I was in Provence and I could feel 'the glorious shock of heat' with Max...The plot itself is a little slow paced and not overly intense or wicked. It just seemed to gel so well perhaps with the gentility and the laidback, idyllic lifestyles that the people of Provence experience.I would say that if you enjoy wine, food, beautiful scenery and good company, a hint of crime and charming laugh-out-loud humour, A Good Year can provide you with plenty of it all. It's the perfect companion on a summery day when you look for something light and beautiful to read.

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