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Favorite fiction or non-fiction books that take place in or are about the French Riviera or Provence

Favorite fiction or non-fiction books that take place in or are about the French Riviera or Provence

Old Dec 18th, 2002, 05:06 PM
John H
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Favorite fiction or non-fiction books that take place in or are about the French Riviera or Provence

Hi, all,

I have a friend who is traveling to France next year (basing in Mougins -- touring he Riviera and Provence). Wanted to get her a book or two -- fiction, non-fiction or a mix -- on this region Any suggestions appreciated. (For non-fiction, interesting guide book suggestions are fine).

Many thanks and happy travels and holidays.

John H.
Old Dec 18th, 2002, 05:17 PM
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Alot of Francoise Sagan's novels take place in The French Riviera.I thinkk Mayles, "chasing Cezanne"is staged there.the Ínsight guides are very good.
Old Dec 18th, 2002, 06:26 PM
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Highly recommend Tender is the Night--F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Old Dec 18th, 2002, 06:34 PM
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Of course all the Peter Mayle books but especially is the one he originally came to Provence to write--Hotel Pastis. It is SO funny. Also Chasing Cezanne. These are not his "travelogues" but "fiction".
Old Dec 18th, 2002, 07:23 PM
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Two Towns in Provence, by MFK Fisher. Non-fiction. Window on Provence, by Bo Niles, non-fiction. Both are kind of memoirs; Niles is more impressionistic. She writes about a stay which must have taken place only a kilometre or so away from where we rented a gite in Gordes, it was so familiar.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 06:40 AM
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Fool's Gold, by Jane S. Smith: an absolutely hilarious novel about an American family whose experiences in Provence are much less idyllic than Peter Mayle's books might lead you to imagine.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 06:46 AM
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There is a series of two books by a British author. Sorry I can't recall the exact title, but there's something about "olive" in them, since she moved to Provence to manage an olive tree plantation, gets romantically involved, etc. Quite a success in the UK. Something like "beyond the olive tree"...
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 10:20 AM
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The Long Afternoon, by Giles Waterfield: a very atmospheric, somewhat melancholy novel about the life of an English expatriate couple in Menton, on the Riviera, between the world wars. I don't think it was ever published in the U.S., but it's available from amazon.co.uk.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 10:29 AM
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I really enjoyed "On Rue Tatin" by Susan Hermann Loomis. Actually, I think it might be better as a gift for someone AFTER they have been there. But it was an easy read.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 10:42 AM
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Is Hotel Pastis the one with the sub-plot about the bank robbers? It is a riot!
Also, his Year in Provence on PBS video is just lovely.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 10:48 AM
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Vincent may be thinking about Carol Drinkwater's "The Olive Farm," although I was unaware there was a second in the series.
Carol Drinkwater, as we old-timers may recall, played Helen Herriot in the BBC series "All Creatures Great and Small." Reading her book I felt as if I was catching up on the life of an old friend.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 11:00 AM
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Am currently reading French Lessons by Peter Mayle & it involves all the unusual festivals & etc. around the country from truffles to cheese. It is very entertaining.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 02:15 PM
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As for fiction, I would recommend those of probably their two best native writers, both of whom loved the area and write of it evocatively and with poetry and color: Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono. Pagnol's works may be a little simplistic, but I think some adults do enjoy them (Le Chateau de ma Mere and Gloire de mon Pere, or My Mother's Chateau and My Father's Glory).

I think Jean Giono might be better and would recommend: Joy of Man's Desiring, Second Harvest, or The Man Who Planted Trees. You can read about them on Amazon or someplace, they are in English translation). Second Harvest is sort of a Provencale fable and would be good if he liked something along the lines of that movie Chocolat. The Man who Planted Trees is sort of philosophy about the difference one person can make in the world. Giono was a pacifist and sort of unusual leftie, very affected by WWI, and got in a lot of trouble for his pacifist views although eventually he was awarded some national literary prize. He is considered one of the best French contemporary writers (he wrote mainly from 1935-1970) now. He was blacklisted for a while by the National Writers' Committee (and perhaps imprisoned) for not being partisan enough during the war, I guess, but that is a dark part of French intellectual history, as far as I'm concerned.

In the nonfiction category, I especially enjoyed Provence by Lawrence Durrell although I think it is out of print now.

The Memoirs of Frederic Mistral might be good if he likes that kind of thing -- memoirs about the Provencal life of late 19th century, a vanished lifestyle, by the famous local writer/poet. I know that's available easily in translation now. Here is a good link I found on Mistral (he founded that museum in Arles, so your friend may be visiting there):

So, I think it depends on your friend's tastes and reading habits -- for more serious literature, I'd suggest something by Giono or Mistral. Of course you could get both serious and light (Mayles is light but I'm afraid I don't really care for his work that much).

Guidebooks: Michelin green is always good for specifics; for Provence/Riviera, I prefer the Cadogan.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 04:59 PM
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Definitely Peter Mayles. "A Year In Provence", etc. Just finished "Hotel Pastis", and am looking for Chasing Cezanne.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 05:53 PM
mimi taylor
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For light reading, Judith Kratz's "Mistral's Daughter".One"of my favorite places in villeneuve-les Aviignon, "Le Prieure" ïs a place I spent two magical weeks is featured in the plot.All of MFK Fisher's books, "long ago in France", Two towns in Provence"are a good start.
Richard Goodman's 'French Dirt.
"Sobin's, "The Fly truffler.
Ford Madox Ford's, "Provence".
And for the Riviera, Mayle's Chasing Cezanne"" and Hotel Pastis"" as another poster above mentioned and Sagan's novels.
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 06:26 PM
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Ah, Gary, I thought I was the only one who knew who Carol Drinkwater was! You must be a true Herriott fan!
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 07:32 PM
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There are a ton of books out there if you can still find them. These are about Provence.
I especially loved the video (4 in all)of Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence." I received them as a gift and refer to them often. This is a good start. Your
friend can rent from local library.
Some other books are:
--Murder She Wrote: Provence to Die For
--The Veil of Years
--A Dogs Life: Peter Mayle
--Provencal Tales
--Love in Provence
--To Die in Provence
--Essence of Provence

Old Dec 21st, 2002, 08:04 PM
John H
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Thanks for all of the wonderful replies.

Happy holidays.

John H.
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