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book reviews

Encore Provence:
New Adventures in the South of France
by Peter Mayle

Publishers Weekly
June 1999

After a four-year sojourn away, Mayle is back in the region he described so enchantingly in A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence. The British author's legion of fans should be well pleased that he decided to return to his adopted homeland, for his writing is as charming and witty as ever. The first chapter, "Second Impressions," explains so convincingly why he and his wife quit the cushy life in America for Provence that readers will be tempted to follow suit. In a subsequent chapter, Mayle makes hash of New York Times food writer Ruth Reichl's disparaging assessment of Provence based on one week-long August visit, and heaps scorn on her and others who consider themselves to be "travelers--intelligent, well-mannered, cultured," rather than tourists. In proving Reichl wrong, Mayle helps out future travelers--er, tourists--by listing the names of favorite markets, vineyards, bakeries, chambres d'hôtes, even where to go for the best olive oil or honey. "A Beginner's Guide to Marseille" is equally useful and evocative, and offers the little-known fact that "La Marseillaise" was actually composed in Strasbourg. After learning the "Eight Ways to Spend a Summer's Afternoon," and accompanying Mayle on his peregrinations in search of the perfect olive oil and around the truffle markets, readers will be licking their lips and itching to hop on the next trans-Atlantic flight.

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