It is with deep sorrow that I offer this salute to Peter Mayle, who passed away on 18 January in Aix-en-Provence. The author of A Year in Provence, along with many other notable titles that celebrated Provence, held a special place in my heart. Perhaps the following excerpt from the introduction of my book, Passion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie, offers the best explanation.
“Falling for France is as easy as sipping a glass of pale rosé on a sun-dappled terrasse overlooking a shimmering Mediterranean cove. Moving to France is more complicated.
Peter Mayle did it, famously recounting his French adventures in A Year in Provence, published in 1989. I read the memoir over twenty-five years ago while sitting on a Mediterranean beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. It was magical to be in luscious Provence on my honeymoon, but enjoying A Year in Provence while in Provence made the special event even more memorable.
In the years that followed, I eagerly awaited each of Mr. Mayle’s delightful publications. In fact, he signed one of them for me at my local bookstore in Virginia. I was charmed by his warmth and wit, as well as his scarlet socks. While I was writing this book, a recollection of those spirited chaussettes prompted me to send him a long-overdue fan letter. As his birthday was imminent, I tucked my note inside a fanciful birthday card. To my delight, he wrote back. Not only was his response a gracious thank-you for a thank-you, but it included sage publishing advice. I framed the letter—it inspires me every day.”
Soon after Passion for Provence was published last November, I sent Monsieur Mayle a copy, which he received in early December. Though I don’t know if he was able to read it, it’s my hope that during his final days, he held the book he helped inspire, and that it brought him joy.