Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Encore Provence
  • Written by Peter Mayle
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780679762690
  • Our Price: $14.95
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Encore Provence

Buy now from Random House

  • Encore Provence
  • Written by Peter Mayle
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307522931
  • Our Price: $11.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Encore Provence

Encore Provence

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

New Adventures in the South of France

Written by Peter MayleAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Peter Mayle

eBook

List Price: $11.99

eBook

On Sale: July 03, 2013
Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0-307-52293-1
Published by : Vintage Knopf
Encore Provence Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Encore Provence
  • Email this page - Encore Provence
  • Print this page - Encore Provence
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
france (113) travel (100) provence (48) memoir (44) non-fiction (25) food (22) fiction (15) humor (12) autobiography (8) mayle (5) essays (5) biography (5) peter mayle (4) culture (4)
france (113) travel (100) provence (48) memoir (44) non-fiction (25)
» see more tags
food (22) fiction (15) humor (12) autobiography (8) mayle (5) essays (5) biography (5) peter mayle (4) culture (4)
» hide
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In his most delightful foray into the wonders of Proven&#231al life, Peter Mayle returns to France and puts behind him cholesterol worries, shopping by phone, California wines, and other concerns that plagued him after too much time away.

In Encore Provence, Mayle gives us a glimpse into the secrets of the truffle trade, a parfumerie lesson on the delicacies of scent, an exploration of the genetic effects of 2,000 years of foie gras, and a small-town murder mystery that reads like the best fiction. Here, too, are Mayle's latest tips on where to find the best honey, cheese, or chambre d'hìte the region has to offer. Lyric, insightful, sparkling with detail, Encore Provence brings us a land where the smell of thyme in the fields or the glory of a leisurely lunch is no less than inspiring.

Excerpt

From Chapter One

I think it was the sight of a man power-washing his underpants that really brought home the differences, cultural and otherwise, between the old world and the new.

        It was a cold, still morning in early winter, and the pulsing thumpthump, thumpthump of a high-pressure hose echoed through the village. Getting closer to the sound, it was possible to see, over a garden wall, a laundry line totally devoted to gentlemen's underwear in a stimulating assortment of colors. The garments were under attack, jerking and flapping under the force of the water jet like hanging targets in a shooting gallery. Standing some distance away, out of ricochet range, was the aggressor, in cap and muffler and ankle-high zippered carpet slippers. He had adopted the classic stance of a soldier in combat, feet spread apart, shooting from the hip, a merciless hail of droplets raking back and forth. The underpants didn't stand a chance.

        Only a few days before, my wife and I and the dogs had arrived back in Provence after an absence of four years. Much of that time had been spent in America, where we were able to slip back into the comfortable familiarity of a language that was relatively free--although not entirely--from the problems of being socially appropriate or sexually accurate. No longer did we have to ponder the niceties of addressing people as vous or tu, or to rush to the dictionary to check on the gender of everything from a peach to an aspirin. English was spoken, even if our ears were rusty and some of the fashionable linguistic flourishes took a little getting used to.

        A friend of below-average height told us he was not considered short any more but "vertically challenged"; the hour, previously a plain old sixty minutes, had sprouted a "top" and a "bottom"; you were not seen leaving a room, but "exiting" it; the economy was regularly being "impacted," as though it were a rogue wisdom tooth; great minds "intuited" where once they had merely guessed; "hopefully," an agreeable word that never harmed a soul, was persistently abused. Important people didn't change their opinions, but underwent a significant "tactical recalibration."

        There were many and hideous outbreaks of legalese in everyday speech, reflecting the rise of litigation as a national spectator sport. "Surplusage" was one of a hundred of these horrors. I noticed also that sophisticated and influential Americans--those whose comments are sought by the media--were not content to finish anything but preferred to "reach closure," and I have a nasty feeling that it won't be long before this affectation is picked up by waiters in pretentious restaurants. I can hear it already: "Have you reached closure on your salad?" (This, of course, would only be after you had spent some time bending your "learning curve" around the menu.)

        We met, for the first time, the "outster," although we never saw a trace of his more fortunate relative, the inster. We were taught to give up our hopelessly old-fashioned habit of concentrating and instead try "focusing." Every day seemed to bring new and exciting vocabulary options. But these minor curiosities didn't alter the fact that we were surrounded by at least some version of the mother tongue and therefore should have felt quite at home.

        Somehow we didn't, although it certainly wasn't for lack of a welcome. Almost everyone we met lived up to the American reputation for friendliness and generosity. We had settled in a house outside East Hampton, on the far end of Long Island, a part of the world that, for nine months a year, is quiet and extremely beautiful.

We wallowed in the convenience of America, in the efficiency and the extraordinary variety of choice, and we practiced native customs. We came to know California wines. We shopped by phone. We drove sedately. We took vitamins and occasionally remembered to worry about cholesterol. We tried to watch television. I gave up taking cigars to restaurants, but smoked them furtively in private. There was even a period when we drank eight glasses of water a day. In other words, we did our best to adapt.

        And yet there was something missing. Or rather, an entire spectrum of sights and sounds and smells and sensations that we had taken for granted in Provence, from the smell of thyme in the fields to the swirl and jostle of Sunday-morning markets. Very few weeks went by without a twinge of what I can best describe as homesickness.

        Returning to a place where you have been happy is generally regarded as a mistake. Memory is a notoriously biased and sentimental editor, selecting what it wants to keep and invariably making a few cosmetic changes to past events. With rose-colored hindsight, the good times become magical; the bad times fade and eventually disappear, leaving only a seductive blur of sunlit days and the laughter of friends. Was it really like that? Would it be like that again?

        There was, of course, only one way to find out.
Peter Mayle

About Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle - Encore Provence

Photo © Betina La Plante

Peter Mayle is the author of thirteen previous books, seven of them novels. A recipient of the Légion d’Honneur from the French government for his cultural contributions, he has been living in Provence with his wife, Jennie, for twenty years.
Praise

Praise

"[Peter Mayle] is something of a wonder. . .chronicling the scene around him in irresistible prose, the joys of a bountiful climate, brilliant sun, and a splendid cuisine." --Time

"Grab a Pastis and settle in for a scintillating rendezvous. Mayle's insights have never been more thoughtful."                                                                                               --San Francisco Chronicle

"Delightful, amusing, and appealing."                                                                               --The New York Times Book Review

"Mayle's prose is, as ever, as pure and welcoming as a glass of the house wine at a Provençal cafe." --The Philadelphia Inquirer
Reader's Guide|About the Book|Author Biography|Discussion Questions

About the Book

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Peter Mayle's delightful books about life in Provence, where he and his wife bought a two-hundred-year-old stone farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Lubéron Mountains.

About the Guide

Summer after summer, the Mayles had fled London in search of two or three weeks under the Mediterranean sun, promising themselves that one day they would make Provence their home. "We had talked about it," Mayle writes in A Year in Provence, "during the long gray winters and damp green summers, looked with an addict's longing at photographs of village markets and vineyards. . . . And now, somewhat to our surprise, we had done it." Each season in their adopted homeland, they soon discover, brings its share of surprises, and every undertaking becomes a small adventure as they adjust to the rhythms of rural life, to the charming idiosyncrasies of the local population, and to a language that at times bears only a passing resemblance to the lessons on their French language tapes. The sense of urgency that ruled their northern, urban lives gives way to an acceptance of the gentler pace of the south. The renovations on their house take months longer than promised, but the workmen's good humor, enthusiasm, and consummate skill more than compensate for the inconvenience of wintering without kitchen walls, central heating, and dependable electricity. Routine errands to the village become opportunities to wile away hours observing hotly contested games of boules, reading the ever-intriguing gestures that punctuate every street corner conversation, or listening to resident experts hold forth on the weather, history, the behavior of tourists, and local scandals while sipping a pastis at the café. Meals--whether eaten at home, at a neighbor's, or in one of the dozens of small, family-run restaurants throughout the region--are long, leisurely occasions, dedicated to celebrating Provence's agricultural bounty, the wines of its productive vineyards, glistening olive oils that range in color from jade green to transparent gold, and, during a short, much-anticipated season, Provence's gastronomic gem, the truffle.

Mayle's unbounded curiosity, his well-honed powers of observation, and his wry sense of humor resonate in his tales and in his detailed portraits of the people he encounters--from the plumber with a penchant for philosophizing to the not-always-welcome guests who arrive from colder climes every summer. The books include plenty of tips and recommendations for those who contemplate visiting Provence. But Mayle's real talent is that he makes it possible to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this special corner of the world without leaving the comfort of one's own reading chair.

In Encore Provence, Mayle returns to Provence after an absence of four years and plunges into a new round of adventures (including a fascinating tour of Marseilles, a visit to a school devoted to the development of talented nostrils, and a search for the perfect corkscrew) and new reflections on the treasures that make even the most ordinary day in Provence memorable.

About the Author

Peter Mayle spent fifteen years in the advertising business, first as a copywriter and then as a reluctant executive, before escaping Madison Avenue in 1975 to write educational books for children. In 1990, Mr. Mayle published A Year in Provence, which became an international bestseller. In addition to writing books which have been translated into more than twenty languages, Mayle has contributed to the Sunday Times, Financial Times, Independent, GQ and Esquire. He and his wife and two dogs live in the South of France.

Discussion Guides

1. Mayle writes "Memory is a notoriously biased and sentimental editor, selecting what it wants to keep and invariably making a few cosmetic changes to past events" [p 6]. Do you think this is true of your own memories of favorite times and places?

2. How do Mayle's experiences in America sharpen his appreciation of Provence? Why does he cite the bustling, colorful country markets as the best example of what he missed most during his time in America [p. 14]? How do the markets embody what he loves about Provence?

3. What insights does Marius's story about the murder of the handsome butcher give you into the ways of life in a small French village? How does his detailed scenario of his own death shed light on the traditions and values of Provence [p. 173-5]?

4. How does Mayle's "recipe for a village" compare to your own version of an ideal spot? Do you think it is possible to find such a place in America, or have we "advanced" too far to reclaim the kind of simple pleasures Mayle finds in abundance in Provence?

5. Discuss Mayle's sharp attack on Ruth Reichl's assessment of Provence [p. 38-43]. Is he overly defensive about his beloved home or do you think that Reichl, a well-known critic, in fact failed to prepare herself properly for her trip and lacked the curiosity and the skills to seek out all that Provence has to offer?

6. Mayle offers "Eight Ways to Spend a Summer Afternoon." Which of Mayle's recommendations appeal to you the most and why? What other outings described in the book--for example, the trip to the olive oil factory--would you add to your list of things to do while in Provence?

7. Do Mayle's descriptions of the people he meets conform to the impressions you may have formed on visits to France or through books and movies? Mayle suggests that the leisurely pace of life, the sunshine, and the abundance of the south encourage the general good humor and cheerfulness of the Provenceaux [p. 12]. Do you think a similar dichotomy between north and south exists in this country?


Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: