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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A foreign land to call home
After writing a couple of non-fiction books about being a foreigner in Provence, Peter Mayle deals with the fictional side of living in that region -- or so it seems. In an opening note, the write claims that his "A Good Year" is a work of fiction, however, `between the lines there were several real people involved'. Fact or fiction it doesn't matter -- what matter is...
Published on June 15, 2006 by A. T. A. Oliveira

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough, but ....
Once again Peter Mayle writes what he knows -- in this story a 30-something, burned-out, over-drafted London businessman inherits a winery in Provence, chucks the rat race and embraces a simpler life. Amusing complications arise, of course, but they're dealt with so easily they're hardly worthy of the term "plot device". It IS a very pleasant read, funny in...
Published on June 10, 2004


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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A foreign land to call home, June 15, 2006
This review is from: A Good Year (Paperback)
After writing a couple of non-fiction books about being a foreigner in Provence, Peter Mayle deals with the fictional side of living in that region -- or so it seems. In an opening note, the write claims that his "A Good Year" is a work of fiction, however, `between the lines there were several real people involved'. Fact or fiction it doesn't matter -- what matter is that he wrote a charming little novel about the changes that life brings us and his character copes them.

Max Skinner loses his job in a financial firm in London, in the same day he inherits a vineyard in France, that belonged to an uncle. Since Max has spent much of his childhood there, he has a connection with that house, that land, and at this point, "A Good Year" becomes a book about going back to the place where you belong to.

It will take some time to Max realize that, but meanwhile he will meet a couple of people who will change his life. If Mayle's narrative is never profound, or his characters never rise above the stereotypical, his book is interesting exactly because of these factors. "A Good Year" doesn't aspire to be a great book about serious issues. It is a light, funny and charming novel to be read between two heavy, serious and demanding books.

Mayle's prose is painted in Provence's paints, with local color and charm. His characters are probably based on people he met, and although not very believable they are still pleasant. Evocative, the prose is direct and fast, what keep those pages turning very quickly.

If Mayle's objective was to bring his readers part of Provence and what is living there -- his mission was accomplished with charm. A better portray of the region one can only have visiting the real thing -- and it would be very nice to have Mayle as the guide.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Votre Santé, July 7, 2004
This review is from: A Good Year (Hardcover)
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?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough, but ...., June 10, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: A Good Year (Hardcover)
Once again Peter Mayle writes what he knows -- in this story a 30-something, burned-out, over-drafted London businessman inherits a winery in Provence, chucks the rat race and embraces a simpler life. Amusing complications arise, of course, but they're dealt with so easily they're hardly worthy of the term "plot device". It IS a very pleasant read, funny in spots, and our hero is charming, but it's also less than Mayle has delivered in the past. Bottomline: A quick, charming read without much oomph! to it, and certainly not worth buying in hardcover.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Off to the beach, June 3, 2005
This review is from: A Good Year (Audio Cassette)
Put on your swimsuit, slather up with sunscreen, and don't forget the headphones! This audio version of A Good Year is the perfect beach companion. Light, amusing, well performed, and tres francais! Just the thing for relaxing on your sand chair. You might want to bring some wine as well, as these characters do all but swim in it! Not as good as A Year in Provence, but fun anyway.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, Fluffy Fiction From The South of France, January 30, 2006
By 
Brett Benner (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Good Year (Hardcover)
Max Skinner is a London Banker who after being fired from his job, learns he's inherited a home and vineyard in the South of France. What follows reads part lighthearted fiction, and part love letter to the place Mayle calls home. A predictable plot, didn't take away from what was ultimately an enjoyable light read, which as long as you're not expecting much you should find it as well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best introduction to Mayle's charm., April 17, 2005
By 
Charles J. Marr (Cambridge Springs, Pa USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Good Year (Hardcover)
I always thought this author had a sort of appeal best classified as "charm." Not really adventure, not highly literary, but certainly literate and enjoyable. Here he is a little flat: however, this little novel could provide a pleasant read in an airport or during a short trip. I might even think of it as a pool (but not a beach) book. It's a white Zanfandel to his previous big reds. If you liked his two south of France books, you will probably get a whiff of thyme and rosemary here, but not the full flood of aromas. After the Cabernet, do you really want Merlot? If you have not read the previous works, go there first, they were better vintages, and you can develop the taste..
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall it's fun, entertaining, breezy and `good', but this is one of the few times I welcomed the film adaptations liberties..., March 12, 2007
By 
Andrew Ellington (I'm kind of everywhere) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Good Year (Paperback)
One good thing about `A Good Year' is that it's a very easy, breezy read. I was able to plow through the entire novel in a weekend. It flows nice, it's far from complicated and it's just easily entertaining. That said, it's not what I expected and it left me a little bitter in some areas. I say this because what moved me to read this novel in the first place was the film starring Russell Crowe (of whom I'm a massive fan of) and when I saw how the characters and such differed so much from the films interpretation I was a bit put off. Maybe if I had read the novel first I would have enjoyed it a little more, but I couldn't help but think about how much more I enjoyed Russell Crowe's cocky and self-centered portrayal of Max Skinner over the books `every-man' approach.

But, this is a review of the book, not the movie, and like I said, the book is a delightful read full of fun characters and a beautiful atmosphere. Peter Mayle's writing style is simple and direct and makes the experience an easy one to swallow and one that is easily enjoyed. I will say, I learnt a lot about wine, and I thought I knew a lot already (my father is a huge wine connoisseur) and Mayle's descriptions of certain colors, flavors and all around perceptions of specific wines is entertaining to say the least.

The story consists of Max Skinner, a recently fired investment broker living in London with a slew of bills to pay and no money within reach with which to pay them (another stark contrast to the film). When he receives word that his Uncle Henry has died and has left him his home in France Max sees this as a possible escape, from life, from drama and most importantly, from debt. After being persuaded and or prodded along by his dearest friend Charlie he makes his way to France to lay claim to his new home, and what a beautiful home it is. For the first time in Max's life he's a home owner with land to boot and upon arriving not only is he greeted with the prospect of a successful winery (I say prospect...you'll understand) but he's also greeted by quite a few lovely ladies including Fanny, the beautiful owner of Max's new favorite restaurant as well as his notaire Nathalie Auzet.

That's all until another woman makes her way into the picture, a young Californian named Christie Roberts claiming to be the late Henry's daughter. If her claim is true it could mean that the property, the home and in essence Max's newfound life is really hers. He stands to lose everything he's grown accustomed to loving. Despite this, and here's another reference to the film adaptation, Max never seems to let it bother him too much. Just as an example, the dinner scene in the film with the Roussel's is much more entertaining than the one supplied here in the novel.

About two thirds into the book something I didn't expect to happen happened, Peter Mayle decides to throw in a bit of mystery. While the mystery itself isn't a drawback, it's still another reason why I prefer the movie over the novel. The mystery doesn't fit as nicely as it could have and comes off a bit pretentious. Despite all the differences, both the novel and the film are delightful experiences and I think any reader of the novel should see the film and visa-versa. Mayle isn't the most accomplished and or detailed writer, but he knows how to develop a breezy fun prose and delivers an entertaining experience regardless of which version (book or film) you prefer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the same story as the movie, March 15, 2008
By 
P. Daigler (Atlanta, Georgia USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Good Year (Paperback)
Like another reviewer here, I had seen the movie first and bought the book because I wanted the fuller, more developed story line. What I found was a completely different story. Other than the same character names, location, and the fact that Max's Uncle had died leaving him the house, the story is completely different. One reviewer here loved the line "Excuse my lips, etc." - guess what - he did not read the book, he saw the movie - this line is not in the book. Please do not expect the same story in the book as the movie.

That being said, I did find the book enjoyable. It is a good read - not quite up to Peter Mayle's previous efforts but fun. Without spoiling it for you, the ending left me a little disappointed. Like so many novels today, the author does not have an ending - they just stop without resolution of the plot lines. If you like Peter Mayle's other books, you will also like this one. If you have never read any of his books, Hotel Pastis is far superior - a beginning, a strong plot line, and a good ending. A Good Year only comes close to this superior novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Little Novel, April 28, 2007
This review is from: A Good Year (Paperback)
"A Good Year" is a book I picked at random and absolutely fell in love with. Not even 300 pages, it's a breezy and light-hearted book that is both funny and charming...The cover, which proclaims "perfect for summer reading!" is beyond accurate. The book is about Max Skinner, a ruthless stock market executive, who suddenly loses his job. On the same day he finds out that his beloved Uncle Henry has passed away and Max, being his only next of kin, has inherited his French estate and adjacent vineyard. Despite Henry's wishes for Max to keep the place, Max's best friend Charlie informs him that he has a chance to make quite a bit of money if he sells it. Everything sounds great until Max arrives on the property and discovers a few problems. The first problem is that a man named Roussel and his wife, the couple who live on the estate, are not very keen on leaving. The second problem is that the wine the vineyard produces is a step above poison and the third, most devastating, problem is that an American woman named Christie has arrived and claims to be Henry's illegitimate daughter. As he still ponders selling the vineyard, Max finds himself falling for a local girl named Fanny and discovering that the place might not be so bad after all. The book is not only terrific (although it contains shades of "Sideways"), but it is also vastly better than it's recent Ridley Scott-directed film adaptation. If you've seen the film and don't really see a reason to read the book, look again. This is a delightful novel and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

GRADE: A
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD MELLOW READ, September 26, 2004
This review is from: A Good Year (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this one. It was very uncomplicated, the syntax was interesting and the story line, while simple, was fun. I do agree with some of the other reviewers in that the author probably let down just a bit on his character developement in this one, but what the heck, you cannot hit a four bagger each time up. All in all I enjoyed it. Loved reading through each and ever meal and descriptions of the country side. Recommend this one highly. Thank you Mr Mayle.
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A Good Year
A Good Year by Peter Mayle (Paperback - June 14, 2005)
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