Hail to Peter Mayle!

Peter Mayle’s most famous book, A Year in Provence, hit the bookstores in 1989. Subsequently, it became an international bestseller, with sales topping six million, in forty languages.

This book and my first encounter with Mr. Mayle made such lasting impressions on me, I wrote about them in the introduction of my book, Passion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie. It goes like this:

“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 chausettes 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.”

Just a few of Peter Mayle’s impressive list of titles.

When Passion for Provence was published in November 2017, I immediately sent Peter and Jennie Mayle a copy. In early December, it was Jennie Mayle who wrote me to let me my book had arrived, explaining Peter was not well. He passed away in January 2018, just a few months short of his seventy-ninth birthday.

In the spring, his last book, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now, was released. The Boston Globe wrote: “Whether he’s smacking his lips in gustatory contentment or mock exasperation, Mayle’s affection runneth over.” Yes, indeed, Mayle’s genuine, heartfelt affection for France draws you in, instantly transporting you to the Hexagon, and eventually, to a lunch table—set with bottle of rosé.

You can experience this belle vie, written in Mayle’s irresistible, charming style, in all his books on France, to include A Good Year (made into a movie with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard), Chasing Cezanne, and Hotel Pastis. And then there’s his caper series:  The Diamond Caper, The Corsican Caper, The Marseille Caper, and The Vintage Caper.  

A stack of Peter Mayle’s endearing works.

What better way to pay tribute to the inimitable author—in honor of what would have been his eighty-second birthday on 14 June—than to pick up one of his classics for a delectable taste of la belle vie according to Mayle? Enjoy!

Stay safe, well, and hopeful.

Bises, Gayle


The Birdwatcher’s Wife is shaping up. Slower than an escargot, the book appears to be inching toward the finish line. All optimistic thoughts welcome!

5 thoughts on “Hail to Peter Mayle!

  1. I can’t imagine what is taking the publisher so long. When I read your manuscript, I thought it was under an inch away from perfection. I can only hope that you are happy with any changes you’ve been asked to make. Much enjoyed your Peter Mayle Blog. You two should have been lifelong friends! We’re heading into the heat here, perhaps reaching 120 this week. Keep cool — wherever you wander this summer. Tim Smith and partner left France about a week ago and have been drifting about the Greek Islands. Scott Anderson flies from Ecuador back to his new home in Mexico today. Travel is back! What about you and Ralph? Is there a road trip in your near future? My daily formula goes like this: No earthquakes + no power outages = no complaints. Bisous, Katherine

    On Sat, Jun 12, 2021 at 3:57 AM Gayle Smith Padgett wrote:

    > gaylesmithpadgett posted: ” Peter Mayle’s most famous book, A Year in > Provence, hit the bookstores in 1989. Subsequently, it became an > international bestseller, with sales topping six million, in forty > languages. This book and my first encounter with Mr. Mayle made such last” >


    1. Thank you so much, Katherine! Had hoped to meet Mr. Mayle here in France one day but was not to be. Headed suggestions of the two editors–takes longer than I thought! Working on the cover now. Yes, great about the travel. We went away for a few days on the coast near Montpellier and next week the other way. Will write more soon!


  2. I’ll raise a glass of rose to Peter Mayle and red socks. We both followed his tracks to Provence…. and you became a Provence author, introducing your readers to this beautiful region as he did. Bravo Gayle!


  3. Hi Gayle and Ralph, Are you once again free to travel about now in France? And elsewhere? I’m also wondering what is happening with the new book. Much to my surprise, a few days ago there was a package in my mailbox from Amazon, and inside was a copy of* Passion for Provence*. I didn’t order it — I’ve had a copy for years — so I tried to see who sent it to me. The only answer I got was “Ralph.” Well, the only Ralph I know lives with a woman named Gayle…. Do you have any comment about this? Perhaps it is simply Amazon’s mistake. I hope you’re both well and having a blast in Provence these days. Everything OK here even in this endless heat wave. AT least stores, cafes, libraries et al. are opening up and life is partially back to normal. Please let me know what’s going on with *The Birdwatcher’s Wife*. It should already have been published! Abrazos, Katherine


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