From Publishers Weekly
Mayle's breezy, uncomplicated fifth novel (Chasing Cezanne, etc.) and ninth book follows 30-something Max Skinner from a sabotaged financial career in London to his adoption of the Provençal lifestyle on an inherited vineyard in France. Max spent holidays at his Uncle Henry's vineyard as a child, so when he inherits the place, the prospect of returning is tempting; a generous "bridging loan" from ex-brother-in-law Charlie seals the deal. The estate, Le Griffon, is in a dire state of disrepair and the wine cellar is filled with bottles of a dreadful-tasting swill, but it's nothing that vineyard caretaker Claude Roussel and prim housekeeper Madame Passepartout can't resolve. Max settles into his new life easily thanks to the attentions of local notary Nathalie Auzet and busty cafe owner Fanny. The arrival of young Californian "wine brat" Christie Roberts, Uncle Henry's long-lost daughter, complicates matters for Max, but her surprise offer and Charlie's arrival lessen the impact of a vicious vineyard scandal involving a delicious, high-priced, discreetly produced wine called Le Coin Perdu. Mayle's simple story provides lighthearted if unadventurous reading and a fond endorsement of the pleasures of viniculture.
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Uber-expatriate Mayle once again flings the doors wide open upon the sunny landscape and not-always-as-provincial-as-they-seem denizens of Provence in another of his wise, witty, and sophisticated novels that many equally sophisticated readers have developed quite an appetite for. In the simplest of terms, this one is about the wine trade. Max Skinner is a young player in the London financial world who hasn't been performing up to snuff on the job lately; one day he finds himself demoted and left with no option but to resign from the firm. As fate would have it--the hand of God, in other words--Max simultaneously receives a letter informing him that his recently deceased and much-loved uncle has willed his estate and vineyard in Provence to Max. With money borrowed from his former brother-in-law, Max relocates there, and his true adventures begin; he thought his life had collapsed into an absolute mess, but instead, he has been awarded a challenging and moral-fiber-strengthening new focus and outlet. Yes, indeed, complications arise--namely, what duplicity are the caretaker and the local femme-fatale lawyer practicing on Max? The entertaining threads in this absolutely embracing novel are woven into a vibrant design. Brad Hooper
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