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Summary and book reviews of Encore Provence by Peter Mayle

Encore Provence

New Adventures in the South of France

by Peter Mayle

Encore Provence
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2000, 240 pages

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Book Summary

A whole new feast of adventures, discoveries, hilarities, and culinary treats, liberally seasoned with a joyous mix of Gallic characters.

After trying--what folly!--to live in other places, Peter Mayle is back in his beloved Provence. He celebrates his homecoming by sharing with us a whole new feast of adventures, discoveries, hilarities, and culinary treats, liberally seasoned with a joyous mix of Gallic characters. The pauses for refreshment include an unforgettable meal in a converted gas station, a rendezvous with the very best bouillabaisse, and visits to eventful weekly markets.

But there is life after lunch, and we also discover a school for noses in Haute Provence, a gardener who grows black tomatoes, the secret of the oversexed butcher, a celebration of Alowine (Halloween) Provence-style, and the genetic effects of two thousand years of fois gras. There is a memorable tour of Marseille, a comprehensive lesson on olive oil, a search for the perfect cork-screw, and invaluable recommendations for splendid local cheeses, wines, honey, bread, country restaurants, and off-the-beaten-track places to stay.

Never has Peter Mayle written with more unabashed pleasure about his heaven on earth.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
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.

For discussion: Encore Provence
  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...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

New York Time Book Review

Delightful, amusing, and appealing.

People Magazine

Mayle is the antidote to an over-wired age and its dot-commandoes....The ground may be a bit well-worn, but c'est la vie.

Kirkus Reviews

Mayle's continuing love affair with Provence takes him back to familiar themes but continues to yield fresh insights. . .

Kirkus Reviews

Mayle's continuing love affair with Provence takes him back to familiar themes but continues to yield fresh insights. . .

Publishers Weekly

[T]he British author's fans will be pleased that he decided to return to his adopted homeland, for his writing is as charming and witty as ever.

Publishers Weekly

[T]he British author's fans will be pleased that he decided to return to his adopted homeland, for his writing is as charming and witty as ever.

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