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Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France Paperback – April 25, 2000
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However, there are reasons to plunge into the third Provençal book by Englishman Mayle, formerly a Madison Avenue copywriter whose bestselling A Year in Provence made the area a must-see for tourists and helped to quadruple real estate prices there. After four years in Long Island, Mayle has returned to France with continuing adoration.
Mayle discloses a world missed by tourists, be it the questions dry cleaners ask about wine stains or the mysterious murder of a small-town butcher given to making housewives happy with more than his displayed meat. He also incorporates guide-like tips--listing markets, cheese makers, and the essential how-tos of perfume sniffing and olive-oil tasting. What's more, this book gives a peek into the life of a bestselling writer. The role is not always an enviable one.
Mayle no longer fits into life in America--the vocabulary alone is enough to throw him off--yet in Provence, he is regarded as little more than a moneyed foreigner. Speared by the British press, he laments, "One of my crimes is to have encouraged people to visit the region ... far too many people ... and people of the wrong sort," an accusation that he denies.
And Mayle comes off as positively defensive in his attack of former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl, who wrote that she was disappointed in the region. The title alone of chapter 3 hints at the sarcastic stabbings to follow: "New York Times Restaurant Critic Makes Astonishing Discovery: Provence Never Existed." Page after page, he roasts Reichl on the spit, creating a hissing Ruth Rotisserie that's most unbecoming from someone of his stature.
What most causes him to sputter is Reichl's admission that she "had been dreaming of a Provence that never existed."
"Where had I been living all these years?" writes the man who's helped to perpetrate the illusion of a land that is nothing but lavender fields, sunflowers swaying in the breeze, and fascinating characters every millimeter. "The Provence that Daudet, Giono, Ford Madox Ford, Lawrence Durrell and M.F.K. Fisher knew and wrote about--the Provence that I know--doesn't exist.... It's a sunny figment of our imagination, a romanticized fantasy."
Maybe. Having recently visited Provence, I agree with Reichl's critical assessment. Therein lies Mayle's ultimate charm. Crack open a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, delve into Encore Provence, and voilà: it may be better than actually being there. --Melissa Rossi --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In "Encore", Peter briefly revisits several topics covered in the original, as well as several more which were apparently overlooked. The range is quixotic: the cultivation of olive trees, an explanation of the three grades of virgin olive oil, the smelly art of selecting fragrances for designing perfumes, foie gras as the key to longevity, discovering the perfect corkscrew, touring Marseille, the almost-underworld of the village truffle market, how to execute the Provençal full shrug, the obligatory elements of the Provençal village, and, umm ..... the shotgun murder of an amorous meat cutter. And, of course, many hedonistic references to the local food and wine. All are treated in the utterly charming and dryly humorous Mayle-style that makes his books so delightful.
Bravo and merci beaucoup, Mr. Mayle! You've provided another enjoyable spice to my life.
In Mayle's two previous books, A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, he captured the essence of the characters and geography of the region beautifully. The reader was captivated by the author's ability to make the smallest occurrence an interesting event. I personally felt that Mayle did an excellent job of describing the cast of characters and their insights into French rural life.
Encore Provence does not have the same level of character development and I feel that this is a weakness in the book. I found that in some cases, well known characters from the previous books are either mentioned in passing or totally re-introduced to the reader. This lack of consistency is annoying.
One other gripe with the book is Mayle's constant reference to America (No offence to American readers intended). Obviously, this has been done to give a reference point to American readers and is also related to the fact that the author had just returned from the USA, but the cynic in me feels this was also done to boost American sales of the book.
Overall though, Encore Provence, is well written and contains enough of the amusing stories and observations that fans and Francophiles alike will enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When a book starts out with someone power washing their underwear you know you are going to be laughing out loud. This is the third book of Mr. Mayles' time in France. Read morePublished 9 days ago by P. Wilson
Peter Mayle makes you feel as if you are side by side withheld m, witnessing and enjoying everything Provence!
Copy provided had severely damaged binding with a poor repair job, book fell apart less that halfway through reading.Published 2 months ago by M. Raica
Absolute must reading.Laugh out loud and repeating sentences to anyone within earshot!!!😄Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
It was a great way to pass driving time during a long road trip. There were many "laugh-out-loud" moments. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Katerina