Customer Reviews: Toujours Provence
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on February 26, 2005
I knew we were in trouble when Mayle's sequel to his delightful "Year in Provence" opened with vignettes on constipation and suppositories. Oh, Mayle's fresh and breezy style is here, and he still has an eye for small but telling details, but this is mainly a retread of the same ground he worked in the much more cohesive "Year in Provence." We are told, yet again, about annoying guests, fraud in the truffle trade, and the arrogance of outsiders who are invading Provence and turning it into a playground for the rich, which is rich coming from a man who has plenty of money to finance his enviable lifestyle and quests to discover the origins of pastis!

All that said, Mayle has a talent for evoking place, and his descriptions of memorable meals will leave you salivating. But you can get all that, in better form, in A Year in Provence.
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on January 31, 2002
Now this is a book to take in the car! Mayle returns to Provence and, unconfined by his self-imposed chronological organization of A Year in Provence, which went month-by-month, produces a delightful, anecdotal account of life in his adopted country. We get to hear about singing frogs, an attempt to train a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig to hunt truffles, as well as various wine-tasting festivities, and particularly a special party for Mayle's birthday that changes his mind about picnics once and for all.
It's a delightful book, great for listening to in the car and almost certainly an entertaining light read.
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VINE VOICEon June 13, 2002
Like Provence, Mayle continues to charm with further adventures from the land of food, wine, and sunshine. If you haven't read "A Year In Provence", I'd suggest starting with that as many of the "characters" he introduced make return visits here. Less structural than his first book, these chapters come off as varied meditations on random events that occur day to day; A birthday picnic, a new found pet,the search for gold in his backyard, and of course the various gastromical pleasures to be found throughout the region. I didn't find it quite as good as the first book, but still he has a way of making you feel like you're sitting down with an old friend.
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on May 24, 2000
I did not enjoy this book as much as others from Mayle, including A Dog's Life and Hotel Pastis. A year in Provence was also better. This one did not flow well and it seemed like I read many chapters that could have come from different books. Read his other books first.
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on July 13, 2008
Slowly, I'm working my way through Peter Mayle's books though these books could more rightly be described as his love letters to Provence.

Toujours Provence begins where his first book A Year In Provence ended. Now a seasoned resident of this region of France, he broadens his view to give us an affectionate portrait of the French in all their regional peculiarities.

At once amusing and educational, this book gives the reader the sense of what it would be like to see France as a resident, not a tourist.

I know I've entertained daydreams of living in France of Italy, at least for a summer. Mayle's books make me want to act upon that fantasy.

This book is my perfect choice for bedtime reading. Not because it's boring and makes me sleepy. Not because it's easy to put down when sleep calls. Reading this book is a calm interlude in my busy life. Mayle has a droll humor and a flair for understatement of the incongruous situations that develop. I find myself smiling, and I can feel the stress melting away.

Toujours Provence, like its predecessor A Year In Provence, is the perfect armchair vacation.
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on October 4, 2004
Toujours Provence is Peter Mayle's delightful continuation of his bestselling memoir, A Year in Provence. In this "sequel," so to speak, we become privy to he and his wife's further adventures in their subsequent years in Provence. Perhaps moreso in this book than in A Year in Provence, we begin to see how the Mayles are becoming much less English and more Provencal in their lifestyles. Full of little joys in each chapter, more truffles, dogs, annoying tourists and/or visitors, singing toads, buried treasure, and delectable food and wine, this memoir is certain to suit those who enjoyed A Year in Provence!
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on February 18, 1999
This book is charming, funny and heartwarming. I have never read A Year In Provence, but I recomend you do--most people who have read both say you should. It also helps to know some French.
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on April 21, 2016
This is a fun, easy read. There are lots of phrases in French, which I can read/understand. The context makes it not that difficult for the non-French reader to understand as well. I found the story of how an English couple adapted to their move to Provence amusing.
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I purchased this book in a bookstore on the Cours Mirabeau, near Les Deux Garcons café, in Aix, in 1991. At the time, the bookstore carried only books written in French. This work of Peter Mayle’s had just been issued, in quick pursuit of the immense popularity of his initial work A Year in Provence. “Toujours Provence” was released only in English in 1991, and somehow the bookstore had mistakenly ordered it, no doubt due to the title (In 1998 Mayle’s account was published in French). After my read in 1991, I concluded that it was not of the same caliber as “A Year in Provence.” Currently I ache to return to the many joys of Provence, and therefore decided to give this light-hearted work a re-read, and have concluded that it is as good as “A Year…”.

Mayle’s substance and style are unchanged from his previous work. There are a series of vignettes that often focus on the uniqueness of Provencal life as experienced by a recent expatriate “arrivée” who has taken up residence in the Luberon region (Mayle, who is English, arrived from London). The observations are a blend of the self-deprecating as well as the condescending. And he peppers his work with untranslated French (which I understand). Generally, though not always, the meaning can be determined from the context for those who know no French.

“A Year…” introduced me to the “Auberge de la Loupe” in Buoux, where I ate a wonderful dinner on a cold dark evening in November, 1989. Subsequently, on many repeat visits, I’ve enjoyed the “17 appetizer” lunch, along with the Tavel Rosé. Maurice is the owner of the restaurant, and Mayle’s wife arranged for “le pique-nique” with the owner for Peter’s 50th birthday. It was in grand-style, since Maurice’s avocation is the restoration of many 19th century horse-drawn carriages, which was the mode of transport to a glorious setting under the trees, with white linen tablecloths and the obligatory champagne. Mayle explained how he had grown to dislike picnics in England due to the often inclement weather. In the end, after the delights of a wonderful “lunch,” it did turn into un pique-nique anglais.

Food, and more food, and yet as he concludes, they have actually lost weight living in Provence. Many of his vignettes center on food and alcohol, and include a trip to a degustation in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, as well as a discourse on the origins and effects of pastis. He also describes his trips to two radically different restaurants – Hiély – in the heart of Avignon, near the Place de Horlage, and a truck stop on the N7 at Orgon. The key selection criteria for both: value for money. Other stories concerned seeing Pavarotti in concert at the Roman Amphitheatre in Orange, singing toads, Vogue magazine highlighting the various “escapes” of the rich and famous, the dog show and the wild fires that can decimate the countryside. Variegated, yes.

In the final chapter he raises the rather unique British admonition on “Going Native,” again a bit tongue-in-cheek. The expression was mainly used during the Raj, the British rule of India, and how the British were supposed to maintain a certain distance “from the native classes,” by adhering to their own rituals and clubs. One of Mayle’s visitors from England noted that Mayle was in T-shirt, shorts, barefoot, and seemed to be oblivious to a rigid time schedule. Had Mayle “gone native” and become a Provençal? And he answers in the affirmative, noting the gradual and at times imperceptible changes in his life, and that overall, they were much for the better, and had improved their mental and physical health. All the better, since he had no “native” guide to help him. Imagine if he had! 5-stars, on the re-read.
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on April 28, 2008
Having survived French bureaucracy, endless home improvement, goat races, hunters, Massot's dogs, summer visitors, and other hazards during A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle brings us more of the same in Toujours Provence.

This time Mayle takes a more illustrative approach. Beginning with a pharmaceuticals marketing brochure that depicts a snail whose "horns drooped" and whose "eye was lackluster," Mayle educates us about health concerns and approaches in Provence--including house calls. Anecdotes relate Mayle's love of picnicking Provence style (with chef, wait staff, and linens); his quest for singing toads, truffles, and napoléons (the coins); his pursuit of Pavarotti and pastis; and, of course, his passion for the region's fresh foods and fine vintages.

With a few exceptions, such as the history of pastis and the more sobering story of summer drought and forest fires, much of Toujours Provence will seem familiar territory to readers of the first book. For the most part, Mayle is in fine form, writing that Bennett, "looking like the reconnaissance scout from a Long Range Desert Group . . . had crossed enemy lines on the main N100 road, successfully invaded Ménerbes, and was now ready for the final push into the mountains." Some anecdotes, like "No Spitting in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape," end brilliantly, while others, such as "Napoléons at the Bottom of the Garden," fall a little flat.

Judith Clancy's delightful artwork is back, but what is missing from Toujours Provence are the quirky characters we came to love or at least wonder about. Most are mentioned or make a brief appearance, but mainly they are relegated to the background. Even Mayle's neighbor Massot (". . . it would be difficult to imagine a more untrustworthy old rogue this side of the bars of Marseille prison"), to whom half a chapter is devoted, is here more caricature than character. We know no more about him, or Faustin and Henriette or Monsieur Menicucci, than we did at the end of the first book. By now, Mayle's circle has expanded , but no one he meets, from the toad choir director to the flic, is nearly as interesting as his neighbors or his builders from the first book.

Like an adequate movie sequel, Toujours Provence carries on in the same vein as its predecessor, with a slightly different or reduced cast and a little less originality and wit. Perhaps more appropriately, I should say it's like a wine slightly past its peak--still worth drinking, but somehow not quite as enjoyable.
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