Monday 14 May 2012

Review: A Good Year by Peter Mayle

Max Skinner is a man at the heart of London's financial universe until his employers embark on a little asset- stripping of their own. Himself. Amid the grey London drizzle, there is one potential ray of sunshine: Max's Uncle Henry has left him his estate in his will - an eighteenth-century chateau and vineyard an hour's drive from Avignon. Out of a job, and encouraged by his friend Charlie about the money in modern wine, he heads for France. What Max discovers is a beautiful house, wonderful weather and a bustling village. The downside is the quality of the wine in his vineyard, but when Max suggests calling in an expert, Roussel, a former employee of his uncle's, is resistant. Help is at hand, however, when a beautiful blonde Californian arrives unexpectedly at the chateau. Peter Mayle's delightful novel will enchant the audiences who bought A YEAR IN PROVENCE and TOUJOURS PROVENCE in their millions. (via Goodreads)

The reason I decided to read this book was because one of my favourite films, also called A Good Year, was based on it. There are quite a few big plot differences between the two, but I won't go into the specifics of that now. Let's just say that if you've seen the film before you've read the book, or vice versa, these differences will probably intrigue more than annoy.

A Good Year is the perfect book to read if you've been dying to escape the never-ending conveyor belt of rainclouds hovering over Britain for the past month or so. You're instantly transported from a grey and repetitive existence which, aptly enough, is exactly what the main character experiences during the first two chapters of the book before relocating to the south of France.

The way Mayle describes the beautiful French countryside is so blissful and inviting. It made me feel like I was stepping into the story like I was in Provence and I could feel 'the glorious shock of heat' with Max as he walks out of the airport (something I always treasure whenever I arrive at a hot destination).

The plot itself is a little slow paced and not overly intense. This is something I usually complain about when reading but here it didn't bother me at all. It just seemed to add the the overall gentility and the implied laidback, idyllic lifestyles that the people of Provence experience.

I would say that if you enjoy wine, food, beautiful scenery and good company, a hint of crime and charming laugh-out-loud humour, A Good Year can provide you with plenty of it all. It's the perfect companion on a rainy day or even for those moments when you're basking in the sun.

Rating: 4 / 5 

Like what you've heard? Get your copy at The Book Depository.