A Good Year is the first I've read by Peter Mayle. I did not know that it had been headed to Hollywood, but one certainly suspects it. The book reads like a screenplay. Colorful characters, enchanting settings and whimsical plotline set up perfectly for a 110 minute trip to southern France on the big screen. After sailing through a very light 287 pages, I feel I've been 'en vacances.'
Descending upon the tiny village of Saint Pons for the summer are: Max Skinner, our hero who has been tossed out of his financial job in London, but immediately inherits a house with vineyard, Le Griffon, in Provence; Christie, a Californian cousin with a possible claim to the beautiful property; and Charlie, brother-in-law and money lender to Max. They join the locals: Monsieur Rousseau, caretaker to the vineyard; Fanny, a temptingly beautiful restaurant owner; Nathalie Auzet, the fashionable local notary; and Madame Passepartout, the matronly housekeeper and village gossip.
The storyline bounces from meal to meal, as nothing happens unless accompanied by sausages, paté, tarte aux pommes, pastis, marc and plenty of red wine. Meals at the village café, at the restaurant, at Le Griffon, and most magnificently at the Rousseau home are described in succulent detail. Evidently, someone is getting wealthy from mysteriously grown grapevines at the far, dusty edge of the property, and therein lies the plot. An ex-advertising executive, Mayle pokes good fun at the culture of wine marketing.
Further coloring the screenplay are the budding romances and the ultimate question of will Max make Le Griffon his home and livelihood. Hardly suspenseful, but what summer vacation is?