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The Magic of Provence: Pleasures of Southern France Paperback – May 8, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767906829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767906821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On an impulse, during the final hours of a year-long stay in France, the author and her husband, who live in Los Angeles, bought a run-down house in a village in the Luberon mountains of Provence, gave vague instructions to a contractor for its restoration and left for home. When they returned the following summer, they found that, miraculously, the house had been renovated exactly as they wished. And so begins this enchanting collection of essays in which Lenard, the author of several textbooks on French language and culture, tells of a vacation home in a fairy-tale town where a duchess in straitened circumstances lives in an ancient castle, the townspeople are friendly and other Americans rush to find similar ruins to renovate. The village begins to work its magic when the husband of the duchess's niece, a deposed prince from a neighboring European country, acts as their welcoming committee. Soon, neighbors share drinks and conversation at the village caf?, aged pensioners help Lenard water flowers in the square and her husband, Wayne, is invited on a ghost-hunting expedition to the local cemetery. Not everything runs smoothly: a gardener hired to care for their plants takes their money and never shows up; a cleaning lady turns nasty. For the most part, however, life in the village is delightful, and Lenard describes it with wit and affection. Adding to the book's appeal, tempting Proven?al recipes end each chapter. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Seduced by the prospect of living the good life in the sensuous land of sunshine, olive groves, and vineyards, another American encounters la vie Provencale. This time the American is actually French-born and buys an ancient, broken-down house in the mountainous Luberon on impulse after a teaching stint in Aix-en-Provence. But the house's restoration is of little significance here; Lenard wants to tell the stories of the people she encounters. She finds herself living next to a castle and befriends its chic expatriate royalty. Lenard crafts narratives skillfully, and her recounting of a disastrous Aida performed in a monumental Roman ruin is hilarious. She concludes most chapters with simple recipes, including kir, vegetable tarts, baked Alaska, and creme brulee. How these recipes succeed in American kitchens depends on whether ingredients in domestic markets measure up to those from Provencal market towns. Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Yvone Lenard writes in a more personal, honest and open way.
The Good Life
Probably - but honest - I really did enjoy the book and recommend it highly, whether you're an armchair traveler or are planning a trip to the south of France.
CT Amazonians
Enjoy this book for its content and the author's affections and just dismiss the lack of writing prowess.
"5dogranch"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was introduced to this book by a friend who's travelled extensively around the world and visited France several times. He was really taken by the book because he always thought Provence was pretty special, but for some reason he could never quite explain why. This book, he said, captured the ambience and spirit of Provence like nothing else he had ever read on the subject. He thought I might find it a good read even though I've never even been to France.
Boy was he ever right! This book is wonderful. The author writes in a way that makes you feel almost as if you know her. I like that. Best of all, the stories carried me away to Southern France, and the recipes--some of which I actually decide to try--brought the "magic" of Provence to my house. Now, I've got to go to France. I may even take up French . . .
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book lets you join in the adventure of living in Provence. You can practically feel the sunshine, and taste the wine. All the people seem like neighbors. I can't wait to try some of the recipes. If you can't travel to Provence, or are considering it, this is the book to read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By artgrad on August 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Although Lenard's book is not really a "bad" read, I agree with the other reviewers that it can be very dry and progress slowly. I enjoyed reading about her relationship with the dutchess, and I do love the chapter about the cats--but something is lacking. Therefore, I suggest that readers with an interest in Provence try Peter Mayle's books about the region. Mayle is much funnier and his books hold one's attention and flow smoothly from one anecdote to the next; something that Yvone Lenard should aspire to.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Wallace on March 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
My wife and I discovered this book just before a planned trip to Provence. Yvone's tales of her lovely village of Ansouis inspired us to seek it out and it was everything she describes, down to the quaint cobblestone streets and beautiful Chateau. If you are planning a trip to France, or just dreaming of one, this book will inspire you. The stories are filled with humor and passion, and her love of the people and region are evident on every page--never patronizing or condescending. As a bonus, she shares recipes at the end of each chapter--we have tried several and they are delicious! We are looking forward to reading her new book, "Love in Provence."
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jeanette Locker on June 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in various areas of Provence as well as reading many books on the subject, I found this to be one of the worst books I have read to date. In reality it is more about the author than Provence. To make matters worse the recipes are far from authentic. Whoever heard of anyone in Provence using Worcestershire sauce? I read the book last month while working with someone at a cooking program in Provence, and we had some good laughs over the recipes. If you want to read something new and authentic try Carol Drinkwater's, The Olive Farm or The Provence of Alain Ducasse.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "5dogranch" on September 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Madame Lenard's book is really quite a charmer, and it is her simple adventures that outweigh her rather amateurish writing. Regardless of the imperfections of the book, it is still delightful and interesting. She writes from her heart and you can feel her love for her village stretch from the pages. Some may find the author a bit pretentious and full of herself, but I dismiss that as just part of being French. (She is much more French than American, having been born and raised in France.) Enjoy this book for its content and the author's affections and just dismiss the lack of writing prowess.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By nemo on December 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a collector and reader of books on Provence, I was entertained by the book; however, it is a quite modest addition to the body of existing personal narratives. The book's most off-putting aspect was the author's constant gushing over neighbors who are minor lapsed royalty. At one point she even labels an airport worker a communist for reacting negatively to her namedropping reference to the duchess in order to obtain more favorable treatment. Her inclusion of recipes, although not novel, did provide optional ingredients to permit their preparation with easily obtainable ingredients. Nothing as profound as Durrell's or Ford's books on Provence, the book most resembles a predecessor which title it appears to borrow from: Lady Winifred Fortescue's "perfume From Provence".
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Billed as a book written by a Californian who moves to Provence, this book is actually written by a French woman who, after spending some time in Beverly Hills, moves back to France into a home that has been "modernized" for her. If you're more interested in boring acounts of how to impress your neighbors than you are in the joy of living life in a beautiful part of the world, then by all means - buy this book. My girlfriend and I were thoroughly disappointed, and returned this pretensious monstrosity for a full refund. For a more substantial and joyful read, try "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle, the book that almost certainly inspired Lenard's shallow and uninspired effort.
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