French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so it's where we write about Frenchy bookish things.
This week, I've decided to focus on an American Author who writes books about France and living in Provence. Oddly enough (because I'm featuring him), I DIDN'T LIKE the book I read by him!
Peter Mayle was born June 13, 1939. He spent 15 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 Mayle published A Year in Provence, which became an international bestseller; his books have since been translated into more than 20 languages, Mayle has contributed to The Sunday Times, the Financial Times, The Independent, GQ, and Esquire.
He and his wife, Jennie, and their dogs live in the south of France.
So, the one and only book I have read by him was "A Year in Provence." I read it after about 20 (possibly more) people suggested it to me as a book I would absolutely LOVE! I live in France, I love books, and I love food (vegan food, but food nonetheless), and they had all LOVED the book, so they just knew it was for me.
I unfortunately found it exceedingly boring and, well, gluttonous. It seemed like the whole book was Peter Mayle acting like an idiot then going into restaurants, eating really disgusting totally not vegan food, commenting on it (snobbishly, if I do say so myself), and then feeling full. I know there was more to it than that, but that's just how it felt to me. I also found Peter Mayle to be slightly snobby, and I can't help but wonder what France he is living in. As his descriptions are NOTHING like the France I am living in today.
With 89 5 star reviews on amazon and only 7 one star reviews, I really somehow must have missed the genius behind it. Because really, the ONLY good thing I have to say about it is that it was really well written with beautiful (and sometimes, unfortunately, grotesque) descriptions. Peter Mayle at least knows how to write.
Because of my incredible distaste for this book, I was just not able to read Peter Mayle's other books about Provence, all of which my aunt had let me borrow. I just couldn't read more snobbery about food and more fiction about Provence.
So, since I disliked "A Year in Provence" so much, you might be wondering why I chose to feature Peter Mayle this week.
1)I know the book was immensely popular, so just because *I* didn't like it doesn't mean *you* won't like it. So, on the off chance you hadn't heard of Peter Mayle, I wanted to bring him to your attention.
2)I think it is important that people understand that Peter Mayle's view of Provence is exceedingly skewed. What he has presented in A Year in Provence, and probably his other books, is a fantasy about living in Southern France, not a reality.
3)It's been a very long time since I posted a review that was actually NEGATIVE, as it's been so long since I read a book I didn't like. I wanted to show you guys that I really don't love ALL books, in case you'd forgotten.
4)Sometimes I like being mean; it can be so fun to say mean things!! :-P (I'm just kidding about this one, in case you didn't get that).
And now that concludes this week's French Friday! I do hope you've enjoyed your time here! In the meantime, if I somehow peaked your interest, you can check out Peter Mayle at his website here. And don't forget to check out Charlotte's weekly French Friday Contribution at The Book on the Hill.
The biography was copied without permission from his website.