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A Q&A with Peter Mayle
Peter Mayle: The inspiration for the story came from California, and so L.A. seemed a logical place to start. Also, I had long cherished an urge to stay at the Chateau Marmont, which I was able to do in the worthy name of research. Very nice it was too. As for the city, I was unable to find the centre, but those parts I did see I enjoyed.
Question: Where did the character of Danny Roth come from?
Peter Mayle: Danny Roth is a mixture of several movie people and agents I’ve met over the years—quick-witted, talkative and relentlessly self-absorbed.
Question: This book is a bit of a love letter to the city of Marseille, which isn’t a place that usually inspires such rapturous praise. Do you think it’s underrated?
Peter Mayle: Marseille is certainly underrated, and I think it still suffers from the reputation gained in The French Connection.Marseille’s problem is that it is not a city that makes an effort to put itself out for strangers. It is what it is, take it or leave it—patches of squalor next to buildings and neighborhoods of great beauty; a tremendously mixed population, with origins in France, North Africa, and Italy; the almost religious support of Olympique de Marseille, the local soccer team; the pride in all things Marseillais, from its bouillabaisse to its soap; the highly vocal distrust of the government in Paris—all this I find fascinating. And then there are the people ofMarseille, known throughout France as masters of exaggeration. Nowhere else in the world will you find the humble sardine described as a shark. In other words, Marseille is a great stew of a city, filled with terrific things for writers to get their teeth into.
Question: What led you to write about a wine theft? What kind of research did you do for the book?
Peter Mayle: I read an article in The Herald Tribune about a robbery carried out in California, one in which the thieves concentrated on the very sell-stocked wine cellar, ignoring everything else. I don’t knowif theywere ever found, but the unusual precision of the robbery intrigued me. Why did they just steal wine? Presumably they were going to sell it, but to whom?And how did they get into the house and clean away? The more questions I thought about, the more it seemed as though the answers would make a great story. And the research, focused as it was on wine, was delicious.
Question: Have you had the pleasure of trying any of the wines that were stolen from Danny Roth?
Peter Mayle: Yes, but not often enough. In fact, I’ll never make a serious wine connoisseur. Taking small and reverent sips is not for me; I like to drink a wine rather than worship it. Give me a well-filled glass and a second bottle waiting in the wings and I’m happy.
Question: This is your first novel since A GOOD YEAR in 2004, though you’ve published two works of nonfiction, CONFESSIONS OF A FRENCH BAKER and PROVENCE A-Z, in the interim. What prompted you to return to fiction—or turn back to nonfiction in the first place?
Peter Mayle: I enjoy writing fiction because there are no restrictions; you’re inventing. And I enjoy nonfiction because you don’t have to make it up; you’re describing. Choosing between the two depends entirely on the subject and the idea, and THE VINTAGE CAPER came about because of an idea prompted by that newspaper story.
(Photo © Jean-Claude Simoen)--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Mayle uncorks a winning wine caper in the tradition of To Catch a Thief. When a hot-shot Hollywood lawyer's most treasured and expensive wines are stolen, his insurance company calls in Sam Levitt, a gourmand and lawyer-of-all-trades with a varied background, to investigate. The investigation takes Sam to Paris and Bordeaux, where he hooks up with the elegant insurance agent Sophie Costes, a fellow wine and food snob. The trail finally leads them to a man named Francis Reboul in Marseille, and soon, with the help of Sophie's journalist cousin, Phillipe, they get an in with Reboul and close in on closing the caper. While the plot may be predictable, the pleasures of this very French adventure—and there are many—aren't in the resolution, of course, but in the pleasant stroll through the provinces and in the glasses of wine downed and decadent meals consumed. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Entertaining mystery. Made me feel like I was in Provence and Marseille. Now I want to go there for real!Published 1 month ago by Lynda Bergsma
Lighthearted detective story. Especially enjoyable if one is familiar with Marseille and the surrounding area and love French food and winePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Peter Mayle has a wonderfully descriptive way of writing. Very amusing too.Published 1 month ago by Janet Hudson Wesson
another very entertaining Mayle book. perfect vacation reading. lite easy takes you to other locales you might want to visit on your next vacay. Read morePublished 2 months ago by jane selwyn
Enjoyable read with typical Mayle flourishes of colorful descriptions of wine and Marseille, along with sympathetic characters and an intriguing plot. Recommend.Published 3 months ago by Traveler193
I enjoyed the descriptions of France. The investigation is interesting but the "denouement" left me thinking that it should have been more interesting or climactic. Read morePublished 3 months ago by french wench