Peter Mayle: A Life in Provence



I was recently saddened to learn that one of my favorite authors, Peter Mayle, has died. The first book I ever bought by Mr. Mayle was Where Did I Come From?, which was purchased over 40 years ago in anticipation of telling my children about the facts of life. Decades later, when I was introduced to his travel memoir, A Year in Provence, I had no idea that this was even the same author. During the intervening years, he had published several other books for children and worked in advertising. He and his wife then took the plunge and gave up their lives in England to relocate in France.

The book was serialized for the BBC, and I came across the videos (yes, videos) at the library, while living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Filmed in Provence, the story was mesmerizing. I could relate in some small way to what he and his wife faced, having myself moved to various parts of the U.S. and adjusted to unfamiliar cultures. Those changes never required learning another language, however!

The views and vistas portrayed in the films were like nothing I have ever had access to on a daily basis, even in the most scenic areas of Michigan’s Great Lakes, North Carolina’s shores, Virginia’s mountains, or Texas Hill Country. Beyond the story’s familiar theme of moving to a different type of world, one can also find the more elusive theme of life never being too far along to try something new. This is such an important belief, and I think it resonates for many of us.

The mini-series wasn’t a critical success, evidently, although John Thaw’s portrayal of Peter Mayle was excellent. I loved it, though, and have watched it more times than I care to admit. Thanks to finding the series on the dusty bottom shelf at the library, I was led to the body of works by this wonderful author. I still remember the pleasure of cuddling up by the fireplace with a snowstorm raging outdoors and experiencing the warmth of the French countryside and the scent of lavender.

Peter Mayle wrote several successful sequels to that book, which are presented a bit more like collections of short stories. All the books contain humor, food, wine, weather, friendship, local culture and beautiful locales. How else would I ever have bumped into truffles (the mushroom-like fungi, not the chocolates), boules, the mistral, or pastis? This author wrote other enjoyable non-fiction, in addition, usually centered on various interesting aspects of French culture. To my delight, there were also his novels to devour, which portray many of the same characteristics as his memoirs, along with crimes solved, business deals conducted and wine produced. There’s some romance to be found, as well. A lovely movie with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard is based on Mayle’s book, A Good Year.

With regret, I have to admit that I didn’t bring the entire collection of Mr. Mayle’s books with me when I moved. I did keep A Year in Provence, of course, and I especially value my ARC (advance reading copy/uncorrected proof) of A Good Year, with the plain blue cover. This format seems just that much closer to the author’s keyboard, somehow.

Try his first book, and if you love it, you’ll have a treasure trove to explore beyond that one. I’m extremely sorry that he’s gone, but surely this author knew that his writing had affected the lives of others, as evidenced by the book sales and fans, increased tourism to Provence, and readers who sought him out when visiting the region.

Merci, Monsieur Mayle!


Love Trumps Hate – Your Help Please – Repost by Anne Lee Wissinger at Nerdy Book Club

Just my small way of trying to counteract intolerance and racism. Please read this wonderful repost by Anne Lee Wissinger at Nerdy Book Club!

Nerdy Book Club

January 12, 2018

Dear Nerdy Book Club Friends,

Over the past week I have read some important books: The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor, re-read Love by Matt de la Peña and Loren Long, re-read Martin Rising by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, and Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz.

The themes of these books wash over me and taunt me. Will you be as brave and courageous as these characters and the writers and artists who created them?

This morning it seems like some kind of cosmic call to action that such racist comments were made by the President on the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.   It is also my daughter’s golden birthday today, turning 12 on the 12th. She goes to her middle school 40 minutes early each day because she is afraid of the bullies who congregate at the…

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Librarians on Horseback!


This is a great article about dedicated female librarians in the 1930s. The story originated at and was reposted by Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare. Not only is their story so interesting, but the pictures will take you back in time! 

From History Daily…

In the 1930s, many people living in isolated communities had very little access to jobs, let alone a good education for their children. In Kentucky, they had isolated mountain communities which could only get their books and reading material from one source… librarians on horseback. Keep reading here!