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A Good Year

A Good Year


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The writer with a claim to being the world’s foremost literary escape artist is back, with an intoxicating novel about the business and pleasure of wine, set in his beloved Provence. Max Skinner has recently lost his job at a London financial firm and just as recently learned that he has inherited his late uncle’s vineyard in Provence. On arrival he finds the climate delicious, the food even better, and two of the locals ravishing. Unfortunately, the wine produced on his new property is swill. Why then are so many people interested in it? Enter a beguiling Californian who knows more about wine than Max does–and may have a better claim to the estate. Fizzy with intrigue, bursting with local color and savor, A Good Year is Mayle at his most entertaining.

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A good time with this book

Have you ever been to Provence? Non? Do you know the French? Non? If you haven't and you don't, then this short time with Max Skinner might not be as much fun as it was for me. Not only have I been to Provence, but I stayed in Montpelier for a month and made many outshoot trips to nearby locales, including Arles and Avignon and small villages like Saint-Pons, the setting for "A Good Year." I lunched and wined and dined as Max Skinner does in Peter Mayle's novel. I also know the English, as different from the French as can be. Knowing the English also helps in the pleasure of reading this novel. But if you haven't and you don't, this is still a great read because you will get to know Provence and its people and the ways of the English. My introduction explains, I think, why I love this novel. No, this is not literature that sits on shelves with Faulkner and Austen. But it is a great, enjoyable few hours transported to a wonderfully sunny, pleasant place among people with a joie-de-vie outlook. Max Skinner lives in England and works as an investment banker and is at odds with his boss. He wakes up one day, thinking, This will be a great day. He expects to close on a big deal. Instead, his boss asks for details of the deal, then fires Max and claims the deal. But his "great day" is yet to come. He receives notification that he has inherited his uncle's small chateau and vineyards in Provence. Thus begins Max's year as a future winemaker. Mayle is excellent in making his characters flesh out as real people, in creating visual images of the chateau and surrounds. He has the ability to put the reader right into the story, savoring the smells of wonderful food and wines. The real story is this pleasant, daily life in Provence. The seemingly main plot is the secret concerning a special section of vineyard and how most of the characters' lives intersect concerning this one section. The number of coincidences coming together seem impossibly large, but the reader knows this is a book of fiction and that the author has ordered such events in such a way. If the reader has immersed in this world of the French, then the coincidences will merge into the flavor of a good wine. Take it at that. Does Mayle purport to writing great literature? Or, does he give the reader a delightful and pleasant story for a few hours? Prepare a cheese and sausage plate, open a bottle of good red wine and enjoy those with this book. It will be a good few hours.

An enjoyable literary diversion

I was looking for something to read on the plane and picked this book up because I thought it had an interesting setting. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The writing style is clean and the plot not overly-complicated. I thought the characters were believable and fit well into the lovely French countryside setting. I learned a few things about wine, too, but not more than I wanted to know. It was fun to read a romance from the man's point of view. I also appreciated the easy, light-hearted feel to the story. It was the kind of book I could enjoy in smaller reading spurts as time allowed during my business travel. I will enjoy reading this book again some cold, rainy afternoon when I need a little literary escape.

I Loved this book

My first Peter Mayle book and I was hooked. I have ready almost all of the rest but enjoyed this the most. Another book that was a good combination of a love story from a man's point of view with humour, wit, a little spice and a great view of life in southern France. I think many men will be able to identify with the main character and the trials and tribunes he goes through in life. Few people live their dreams as this character did but this was written in such a way that everyone could see himself following this same path without stretching their imagination. too far.

A Terrific Little Novel

"A Good Year" is a book I picked at random and absolutely fell in love with. Not even 300 pages, it's a breezy and light-hearted book that is both funny and charming...The cover, which proclaims "perfect for summer reading!" is beyond accurate. The book is about Max Skinner, a ruthless stock market executive, who suddenly loses his job. On the same day he finds out that his beloved Uncle Henry has passed away and Max, being his only next of kin, has inherited his French estate and adjacent vineyard. Despite Henry's wishes for Max to keep the place, Max's best friend Charlie informs him that he has a chance to make quite a bit of money if he sells it. Everything sounds great until Max arrives on the property and discovers a few problems. The first problem is that a man named Roussel and his wife, the couple who live on the estate, are not very keen on leaving. The second problem is that the wine the vineyard produces is a step above poison and the third, most devastating, problem is that an American woman named Christie has arrived and claims to be Henry's illegitimate daughter. As he still ponders selling the vineyard, Max finds himself falling for a local girl named Fanny and discovering that the place might not be so bad after all. The book is not only terrific (although it contains shades of "Sideways"), but it is also vastly better than it's recent Ridley Scott-directed film adaptation. If you've seen the film and don't really see a reason to read the book, look again. This is a delightful novel and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. GRADE: A

'A Good Year' a delicous read

If you've read A Year in Provence, then you're familiar with the wonderfully witty and entertaining style of ex-pat-Brit, Peter Mayle, a former Madison Avenue ad exec who escaped the rat race of New York by moving his family lock stock and barrel to France. His fifth and newest novel, A Good Year, is part romantic comedy and part mystery as the plot takes the reader through several twists and turns of a complicated boutique wine industry with a disillusioned investment banker, who just lost his job but inherited a vineyard from his uncle, a distant cousin no one knew about, who turns out to be a wine expert, and the hilarious residents of a charming town in the Provence. If it's any indication of how entertaining a read this new novel is, I finished it in the time it took to fly from Austin, TX to South Bend, Indiana!

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