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A Good Year Hardcover – June 1, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375405917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375405914
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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By A Customer on June 10, 2004
Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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