Toujours Provence (2001)

Peter Mayle

In my favourite books of 2018 I mentioned that after enjoying the first book in the series I was looking forward to imbibing the second installment of humorous memoirs from British expat M. Mayle in the south of France.

However — and I should have seen this coming really — not only did it not live up to expectations, I also can't quite put my finger on exactly why. All of the previous ingredients of the «mise en place» remain; the anecdotes on the locals' quirks & peccadilloes, the florid & often-beautiful phrasing and, of course, further lengthy expositions extolling the merits of a lengthy «dégustation»… but it somehow didn't engage or otherwise "hang together" quite right.

Some obvious candidates might be the lack of a structural through-line (the previous book used the conceit of the authors's renovation of a house in a small village through a particular calendar year) but that seems a little too superficial. Perhaps it was the over-reliance of "silly" stories such as the choir of toads or the truffle dog? Or a somewhat contrived set-piece about Pavarotti? I remain unsure.

That being said, the book is not at all bad or unworthy of your time, it's merely that whilst the next entry in the series remains jigh on my reading list, I fear it has subconsciously slipped down a few places.