Friday, 28 November 2008

A Year In Provence

I am a huge fan of travel diaries and tales of those who have moved abroad to experience another culture. As someone who has made such a transition, I am always intrigued by the adventures of others and no more so than in Peter Mayle's account of A Year In Provence.

Needless to say, I own the book, but we also have a copy of the entire television mini-series produced by the BBC on DVD. This is a series that I can enjoy time and again because of the many details to be observed, especially in the portayal of the characters. In the television version, the late John Thaw is Peter Mayle and Lindsay Duncan is Annie. The year opens with their move to the south of France just in time to experience the force of the Mistral in winter with no central heating and frozen water pipes.

John and Annie are both charmed and bewildered by the characters they meet in their new home, especially by their neighbour Rivière, who makes frequent gifts of dead foxes! They are frustrated by French workmen, who promise to do the renovations to their 200 year-old farmhouse, then disappear for weeks at a time. Their limited amount of French makes for some very funny conversations as the workmen speak no English.

By the end of the year, they are seduced by their new way of life and they have been accepted by the locals as part of the family.