Peter Mayle doesn’t have a monopoly! Posted by Tim Hildreth on Aug 30, 2016 in Cooking, Culture, Literature
I just finished reading Peter Mayle’s wonderful “A Year in Provence” . . . only 25 or so years after it came out. It’s a lovely book, but I think I was avoiding it! Anytime anyone hears about my time in France they always ask “have you read . . . ?” which weirdly kept me away.
Mr. Mayle has written a number of books about or inspired by his time in the south of France, and if they’re all as charming as “A Year in Provence”, I’m sure they’d be a lovely read. But if like me, you’ve been avoiding him, but you still want to find some good reads that will put you in that French state of mind, here are some of my favorites.
My Life in France – Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
Written with the help of her great nephew, My Life in France recounts how Julia went from not-so-average wife to world famous cookbook author and life-long lover of France, the French, and above all, French cuisine. The book – which served as inspiration for half of the film Julie and Julia – takes you on a journey from Paris to the south of France and all the sights, sounds, and flavors in between.
The Olive Farm – Carol Drinkwater
Before becoming an author, Carol Drinkwater was a successful actress in television and film (some readers might remember her from the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small). With some of the money she earned, she and her husband purchased a home in the south of France and turned it – through much love and hard work . . . and a few twists and turns – into their dream home . . . and a working olive farm!
The Sweet Life in Paris – David Lebovitz
This is a must read for anyone who loves Paris . . . and food! David is a professional baker with a keen observational eye and a wicked sense of humor. He is able to perfectly capture so many of the quirkier aspects of French living . . . and he ends every chapter with a recipe! What more can you ask for. David also has a great blog of his own that includes more recipes and updates about the latest in Paris food and goings-on.
And finally, a book (or a series for those who want even more) from Stephen Clarke, the “Anti-Mayle” according to some. Mr. Clarke’s very funny series recounts his “semi-autobiographical exploits” (trust me, not all of this can possibly be true!) living, working, and loving (or trying to!) in the French capital.
I love all the entries in this list of recommendations, but for pure fun and laughter, Mr. Clarke’s books are far and away the most enjoyable of the bunch.
Et vous? Have you read any of these books? Which is/are your favorites? What other English-language books do you love about France? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’m always looking for new books to read.