“A delightful divertissement. . . .plenty of . . . local color, comic dalliances and a feastful of entertainment.” —The Seattle Times
“Happily snide (and knowledgeable). . . . Wicked turns of phrase . . . . Quite agreeable, with an insouciant nose . . . perfect for summer reading.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Mayle makes Provence sound like the most enticing place this side of paradise. Reservations, anyone?” —People
“Bubbly, light-hearted, good-natured. . . . [Mayle’s] descriptions of food and country ambience. . . live up to his reputation.” —The Baltimore Sun
“Fast-moving and fun. . . . a deliciously light-hearted tale. . . . The Provencal life never tasted so good.” —Rocky Mountain News
Mayle's breezy, uncomplicated fifth novel (Chasing Cezanne, etc.) and ninth book follows 30-something Max Skinner from a sabotaged financial career in London to his adoption of the Proven al lifestyle on an inherited vineyard in France. Max spent holidays at his Uncle Henry's vineyard as a child, so when he inherits the place, the prospect of returning is tempting; a generous "bridging loan" from ex-brother-in-law Charlie seals the deal. The estate, Le Griffon, is in a dire state of disrepair and the wine cellar is filled with bottles of a dreadful-tasting swill, but it's nothing that vineyard caretaker Claude Roussel and prim housekeeper Madame Passepartout can't resolve. Max settles into his new life easily thanks to the attentions of local notary Nathalie Auzet and busty cafe owner Fanny. The arrival of young Californian "wine brat" Christie Roberts, Uncle Henry's long-lost daughter, complicates matters for Max, but her surprise offer and Charlie's arrival lessen the impact of a vicious vineyard scandal involving a delicious, high-priced, discreetly produced wine called Le Coin Perdu. Mayle's simple story provides lighthearted if unadventurous reading and a fond endorsement of the pleasures of viniculture. Agent, William Morris. (June 3) Forecast: Mayle's soft-touch Proven al scene-setting is once again likely to translate into big bucks, with Ridley Scott signed up to direct the film version and a 175,000 first printing planned. BOMC selection; 8-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Having featured food and art set against a Proven al backdrop in his previous novels (Hotel Pastis; Chasing C zanne), Mayle here turns to wine. On the very day his boss steals his biggest account and maneuvers him out of his job in London's financial district, Max Skinner learns that he's inherited his uncle's vineyard in Provence. Unfortunately, the place is rundown and-worse-the wine it produces is awful. But what about the small plot at the edge of the vineyard that his caretaker badmouths and the private-label "garage wine" being sold oh-so-discreetly in Bordeaux for $40,000 a case? Then there's the unexpected visit of Californian Christie Roberts, who knows a thing or two about wine herself and may have a valid claim to the estate. Though his plot is predictable, Mayle juggles complications, chicanery, and romance with entertaining and informative tidbits about wine-and his Provence never fails to charm. A good bet for oenophiles and nice, light entertainment for all. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/04.]-Michele Leber, Arlington, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A Good Year (as in wines) finds Mayle back in Provence, the region that inspired his famous nonfiction debut, A Year in Provence (1990), and his first novel, Hotel Pastis (1993). After his immediate boss steals his best client just as a huge deal is about to go through, Max Skinner quits his job as a financial agent in London. On the same day he receives a notice from France that he's inherited from his uncle Henry a farmhouse and 40-hectare vineyard in Provence. Best friend and former brother-in-law Charlie, a budding wine snob who has just made full partner at a real estate firm, lends deep-in-debt Max £10,000, tells him that small vineyards can put out very pricey wines, and sends him forth for six months in his new vineyard. The farmhouse is rundown, but Nathalie Auzet, the notaire who gives him its keys, is stunningly upscale, and young Fanny, who runs the local bistro, serves lusciously delicate meals along with her cleavage. For much of the tale, Max's big loan from Charlie undercuts unease, distress, or suspense in the plotting; nor do Mayle's mildly lyrical descriptions add much excitement. Max's inherited label, Le Griffon, tastes like pipi de chat; even Max can't drink it, and even Roussel, who oversees the vines and makes Le Griffon, calls it "a little naive, a little unfinished around the edges." Then we are led to the mysterious Le Coin Perdu, a Bordeaux from a vineyard too small even for wine tastings, a vineyard that can produce only 600 cases at $40,000 a case. Pricey? Pricey! Happily, Charlie the plummy-voiced snob soon returns and gives the novel an amusing lift. So who actually owns this small vineyard but doesn't know that it produces an indescribably complex Bordeauxlaced with Cabernet?Uncorks as a bottle without much nose, leaving but brief bloom on the palate: it needed perhaps a little more breathing time when decanted. First printing of 175,000; Book-of-the-Month Club main selection. Agent: Virginia Barber/William Morris