Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence

Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence

3.9 10
by Peter Mayle

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Having delighted millions of Americans with A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle treats us to a wonderfully entertaining novel of escape, romance and adventure. played in the landscape he has made so irresistible.

Simon Shaw, a forty-two-year-old advertising tycoon, worn down by insatiable clients and a rapacious ex-wife, wants to get away from


Having delighted millions of Americans with A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle treats us to a wonderfully entertaining novel of escape, romance and adventure. played in the landscape he has made so irresistible.

Simon Shaw, a forty-two-year-old advertising tycoon, worn down by insatiable clients and a rapacious ex-wife, wants to get away from it all. On impulse he drives to the south of France. When an accident leaves him stranded in a small village in the Luberon, an enchanting Frenchwoman, who is between husbands, comes to his rescue and soon lures him into buying the local gendarmerie. Together they transform it into a little jewel of a hotel. And life seems idyllic.

But at the same time, a crook, recently released from the Marseilles prison, is plotting to rob the bank in the nearby town. Paths cross. schemes go awry -- and through it all Peter Mayle delights us with the intrigues of the haut monde that descends on the Hotel Pastis and the machinations of the bad guys, as everything conspires to threaten the heaven on earth that Simon Shaw has envisioned.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As fans of A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence may have suspected, Mayle's skills as a writer translate well into fiction. His first novel is as adroit, funny and charming as his previous works, and again it is set in his favorite region of France. Newly divorced, disenchanted and bored with his job as a director of a prestigious British ad agency, Simon Shaw is delighted when beautiful Frenchwoman Nicole Bouvier suggests that he rescue from bankruptcy a half-finished hotel in the drolly named town of Brassiere-les-Deux-Eglises. Taking a huge risk, Simon resigns from his agency and becomes patron of the new establishment in the picturesque Luberon region. In counterpoint, Mayle crosscuts to the escapades of a lovable band of criminals who are conspiring to break into the vault of a bank in the neighboring village of Isle-sur-Sorges. As the threads of the plot begin to converge, Mayle displays his satiric eye for social foibles by skewering advertising execs in England and the U.S.; he is equally adept at evoking typical Provencal villagers. Wickedly sharp and sympathetic at the same time, his characterizations are accurate down to nuances of class differences, voice, accent and vocabulary. The novel is as smooth as a sip of pastis, and one hopes that Mayle will find his segue into fiction equally addictive. 100,000 first printing. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Mayle's first novel is carefully abridged and wonderfully read by Tim Pigott-Smith. The tale is one of contrasts: the traditional values of Provence and the pressures of international business; the complexities and delights of haute cuisine and the simplicity of pastis; the diversity of values of people from Britain, France, New York, and Texas; and honest labor and a bank robbery in Provence. Some familiarity with the French language, though not required for following the action, will add considerably to the listener's enjoyment. Piggott-Smith's narration and his mastery of dialect, along with the high production quality of this audiobook, make this rendition an absolute delight for the general listener. Very highly recommended.-- Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., Ohio
Brad Hooper
The publisher is anticipating big demand for this novel by the author of the much loved travelogue duet, "A Year in Provence" (1990) and "Toujours Provence" (1991), in which the francophile Englishman shared his delight in living as a "permanent visitor" of that evocative French setting. Mayle's love of Povencal customs is again evident in--in fact, is the provenance of--a new novel that seems to echo his own life. Simon Shaw is an early-middle-aged advertising executive in London who ducks out for some repair work on his frayed nerves and heads for Provence. Car trouble on the way is the cause for meeting an interesting woman--Shaw is divorced--and the effect of the encounter is his eventual disengagement from his hectic London life, which he replaces with a more pastoral life as a hotel keeper a la francais. The reader is intermittently and enjoyably distracted from the main action by a subplot concerning a motley crew of local criminals plotting a bank heist. (These fellows, along with Simon's valet, Ernest, constitute a wonderful supporting cast.) During the robber band's getaway, a young Texas bicyclist enters the picture, and the band's crime is compounded by kidnapping. This is a warm, charming farce with appeal to anyone, Francophile or not.
Kirkus Reviews
Consumer glories rendered by a master (the velvety Acquired Tastes, 1992) in a richly amusing first novel set in London and Provence, even more stylish than Mayle's travel hits (Toujours Provence, 1991, etc.). The productive Mayle also has a new nonfiction work this season (Up the Agency, p. 38), which pours lime on his 13 years as a junior copywriter and then creative director in the Madison Avenue ad arena. That background feeds into his novel—the story of cultivated advertising colossus Simon Shaw, now 42, tired of the ad game, divorced by his "neglected" wife (his former secretary), who has gone high society with a mania for fancy decoration. Taking his first vacation in over two years, Simon solos into sleepy BrassiŠre-les-Deux-Eglis, where his injured Porsche must remain while parts are shipped in. Simon deliquesces in Paradise, or melts into sappy goo, under the tanned cleavage of Nicole Bouvier, a homeowner pinched by thin alimony payments. A London meet with the Rubber Barons, a condom company offering a $30 million-dollar account, and a visit to Nicole convince him that he's burnt out at advertising and would much rather refurbish the abandoned gendarmerie in BrassiŠre and turn it into a first-class hotel, with the aid of his tartly well-spoken major-domo Ernest—and Nicole! Meanwhile, Hotel Pastis meets Big Deal on Madonna Street as a band of thieves dryly plan and carry out the July 14th holiday robbery of the most picturesque little bank in Provence, an event that becomes the unwanted kidnapping of a multibillionaire's son. A cedar box of Havana Churchills, a pint of white diamonds—the gift novel par excellence, its smart dialogue at full glitter throughout.(First printing of 100,000 is just frog jelly before the tads pop.)

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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Meet the Author

Peter Mayle spent fifteen years in the advertising business, first as a copywriter and then as a reluctant executive, before escaping Madison Avenue in 1975 to write educational books for children.  In 1990, Mr. Mayle published A Year in Provence, which became an international bestseller.  He is also the author of Encore Provence, Toujours Provence, A Dog's Life, Anything Considered and Chasing Cezanne.  In addition to writing books which have been translated into more than twenty languages, Mayle has contributed to the Sunday Times, Financial Times, Independent, GQ and Esquire.  He and his wife and two dogs live in the South of France.

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Hotel Pastis 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
TLeopard More than 1 year ago
Peter Mayle has such a way with words. I loved this book. Made me want to move to France.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Mayle introduced many of us to Provence through his travel books. His fiction is equally enjoyable. This book is a fun view of the Provencal lifestyle. Great reading after a boring day at the office.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Peter Mayle's books and I thought Mr. Mayle had a fun writing style until this book, Hotel Pastis. I found it offensive and written from a strong male perspective which was just boring and not interesting. I had recommended this book for our bookclub read this month and I am embarrassed that I did. I wish I would have read a true review of the book that would have at least given an R rating for language. Mr Mayle must have decided to leave his charming style for vulgarity and edge that won't appeal to his previous followers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I HIGHLY recommend Mayle's 'travel' books such as 'A Year in Provence' and 'Encore Provence' I am not as enamored with his fiction. Yes, he includes his trademark descriptions of French villages and food, but his characters seem phony and flat. Perhaps the difficulty lies in the fact that this contrived story pales in comparison to the charm of Mayle's 'real' France.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Mayle has a style all his own: clever, witty, and filled with fun! Here Mayle tells the story of how a burnt-out advertising man from London leaves it all behind to start anew in the South-of-France as the owner of a charming (renovated) hotel and the beau of a ravishing Frenchwoman. Great fun for a summer afternoon!