My Twenty-Five Years in Provence by Peter Mayle

by Edith Cody-Rice

Peter Mayle, that prolific promoter of the pleasures of Provence died in January of 2018. This book, his last, was published posthumously in the spring.

Peter Mayle and his wife Jennie, were advertising executives, who, in 1987 moved from Devon where Mr. Mayle had been writing full time,  to a farmhouse in Ménerbes, in the Luberon region of Provence. There, Mr. Mayle wrote his first book about France A Year in Provence (1989). It arose out of a letter he wrote to his agent detailing, humorously, the travails of living in the south of France, while praising the lifestyle and the surroundings. His agent told him if he could write more of this, he would find a publisher for it, which he did.

The book eventually sold millions of copies, but the fame drove Mr. Mayle out of France because of the invasiveness of the press and public. He set up home in Long Island, but in 1999, he was drawn back to France and bought a house between  the picturesque village of Lourmarin and the even-tinier Vaugines. Mr. Mayle has written 35 books many about Provence, including a series of mysteries. Two of his books  have been turned into television series.

Mr. Mayle has been accused of confirming stereotypes of the Provençal, of attracting hordes of tourists to Provence, as well as contributing to the skyrocketing real estate prices. His books are charming, full of exuberance and humour with an ironic twist. All of his books about Provence have the same flavour and he has been accused of mining the same vein for the last 25 years. But as he said in an interview with the Telegraph, It is a very rich vein and I haven’t even started to scrape the bottom of the barrel yet. 

Twenty-Five Years in Provence is a book in the same vein as all his others about France.  It is charming, exposing the slow pace of life and its quirks, if a little less rich in content. It assumes, I think, that you are familiar with his writing and this is an endnote to his career. If you have read other Peter Mayle books, you will recognize the style. It is a little charmer, good for a summer Sunday afternoon.