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Encore Provence: New Adventures In The South Of France (2000)

Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France (2000)

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3.96 of 5 Votes: 4
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0679762698 (ISBN13: 9780679762690)

About book Encore Provence: New Adventures In The South Of France (2000)

Because living in the south of France, or Normandy, or Italy, sounds so wonderfully exotic and impossible, reading about those who have chosen to do is both wonderful and a cause for jealousy. I read A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence many years ago, and happily both continue to reside on my shelves. I borrowed Encore Provence from my workplace for some Christmas/New Year relaxation.Written a decade after the first two volumes, the elapsed time included relocation to California. This volume touches on his responses to returning to his beloved Provence. His writing has improved from his first volumes (not that it was ever poor), but I was less enthralled. Perhaps it was because A Year in Provence was my first written encounter with this region, and the first cut is indeed often the deepest. It may also be that this was less of a chronicle and more of a travelogue. The first volume had a wonderful narrative structure that held the work together. There was finding a house, transforming it, adjusting to the community. In short, it chronicled the making of a home.Nevertheless I enjoyed this immensely. There are wonderful explorations of the truffle trade, village life, food and life. One piece (Restaurant Critic Makes Astonishing Discovery), a response to an American food critic’s disappointment with Provence is perhaps overly defensive, but on the whole each piece is delightfully bucolic.Many are also thought-provoking. Many of us in the Anglo-Saxon world know that we are too busy, and that there are more important things than work and accumulation. Still, most of us (myself included) seem unable to do anything about it. Writers like Mayle in a sense are important because they make us pause and think before we keep along our path, and because they are entertaining and not didactic, some of us at least take heed. His reflections on a transplanted London advertising executive turned Luberon wine-maker and the benefit of agricultural work makes even this brown-thumb want to take up food-growing.Not that life in Provence is perfect. Buying a car can be a bureaucratic nightmare, and getting a tradesperson on site can be almost impossible. And the French as a whole are an enigma. How is it that a people whose diet consists of lovely fatty foods have the lowest rate of cardio-vascular disease in the western world? Some of the reason of course is portion size, and not every meal is foie gras and camembert. Perhaps it is also because, as a whole, the French (like the Italians) have discovered (or have never forgotten) that time spent over good food with good company, washed down with good wine is not one of the finer things in life. It is the finest thing in life.

This reads more like a Provence guidebook and less like a memoir. It has nice weight and heft after the insubstantial stories in Toujours Provence and has the same charming competent humorous writing style as A Year in Provence. I liked this book because I can see his journalistic tendencies more clearly. I enjoy the way he chases down a story and the lengths to which he’ll go to follow up on interesting possibilities like the perfumery school for blind children, the processing of olive oil and the perfect corkscrew. I maintain that I’d like to know him and hang out with him in Provence – as it seems many other readers have wanted over the years – and even more than that, I’d love a life like his.

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This is the third book by Peter Mayle about the years he spent living in the south of France. This book was written 10 years after his first one, which I read and reviewed. In the intervening years, Mayle only improved his writing in my opinion. His first book was enjoyable enough but this one is a delight.He broadens the subject from just his personal experiences and adds more adventures and topics about French countryside life in general. I am definitely smitten with these "travel" books. But I think I am gaining weight just from reading about the long, delicious lunches eaten routinely by the French! Ooh la la!

I was lucky enough to read the third installment of Peter Mayle's Provence trilogy in Provence itself recently. Not exactly in The Luberon though, we were staying in the slighty busier, more touristy part of Frejus but I'm not complaining, it's a beautiful place.As with the first two books it's like curling up with an old friend, an old witty francophile friend that causes you to laugh out loud (very possibly startling nearby sun-worshippers)and teaches you something new each time you engage with it/him/her. As far as I know this is the last one but I also know if another does come out I'll definitely be reading it. Equally I'll definitely be going back to Provence.

Imagine... A stay in a beautiful house in the grounds of a chateau in Provence... Every home comfort provided... My choice of reading matter from my friend's bookshelves was this. I would get up, sniff the perfumed air through the French windows in our room, and wander to make off for my first cuppa. I found this book explained many things and gave pointers to what activities to do. - Why couldn't I get a writing pad without it being graph paper? Food. The amazing experience of the markets particularly the one at Lourmarin. Food. I agree with the comment that it was written in a slightly journalistic way, but I found this quite useful, being there at the time. There is the 'entertaining' saga of the handsome butcher. Quite amusing. Possibly! An informative book for this area of France.
—Gillian Mcintosh

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