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Peter Mayle
245 Pages
Publisher: Sphere Paperback Film Tie-in edition (October 2006)
ISBN: 075153966X
Price: S$16.75 (Available in Borders)






If this reviewer had a choice (and all the time in the world), he would wish to read this book indulgently at coffee table on a balcony overseeing vast grasslands, with a glass of red wine and some fresh fruits on a platter.

The abovementioned description is almost unattainable in this fast-moving society of ours.

Hence, what this reviewer did was to read this 245-page book during trips on sardine-packed public transport, during lunchtime and teatime breaks, and whatever available time he could squeeze out from his daily routine.

Now, if English author Peter Mayle hears of this, we are sure he would not be too approving of it. After all, as the synopsis of the book will tell you, this story is about the finer aspects of enjoying life, and should be appreciated, well, preferably, over a glass of fine wine.

The very readable book tells the story of Max Skinner, who gets retrenched from his banking job, but gets salvation in the form of an 18th century house in France, complete with a vineyard, from his dead uncle.

The disheartened man flies to France, hoping to discover a new life. There, he meets his uncle’s former employee, a prim and proper housekeeper, an American girl who is his uncle’s long-lost daughter, and an irresistibly attractive café owner. With the help of his ex-brother-in-law, his life gets pieced together again, not before some drama involving the ownership of the house.

Do not read the book expecting twists and turns from the colourful cast of characters, because these people have personalities as straightforward as the how you would turn a page of a book. There are no complications, nor any conniving plot schemes to exercise your mind. What you read is what you get.

Not that this is a negative point though, because the author does paint a beautiful picture of the countryside with his words. The sceneries and wide pastures come alive in your mind vividly. And the other pleasurable moments that come from reading this 2004 book would be the descriptions of food between the various short chapters. Let’s just say you won’t want to read this book on a hungry stomach.


“He stripped off his tie and jacket and slumped on the couch, all energy and optimism gone. The apartment was a mess. His life was a mess. As an alternative to housework or vodka, he turned on the television. A cookery programme. A documentary about salamanders. A man with blow-dried hair presenting the news from CNN. Golf, the instant soporific. Max dozed off, and dreamed of drowning in a vat of crème brulee.”


A perfect companion during stress-free weekends if you have nothing on your mind, and all you want is a relaxed and lighthearted read.

Review by John Li




. A Good Year



This review is made possible with the kind sponsor of BORDERS


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