Encore Provence is the second sequel to Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence, after Toujours Provence. A Year In Provence is all about Mayle, an Englishman, and his wife buying a house in Provence, and their adventures and misadventures in renovating it. Mayle seems to lose some of that sense of the-outsider-looking-in in Toujours Provence, which is a chronicle of the author and his wife’s experiences in Provence, as they slowly get accustomed to living there. In Encore Provence, Mr. and Mrs. Mayle are not outsiders at all; they are very much insiders, locals of Provence, giving the readers glimpses into the inside world of the people there.
If I had to describe Encore Provence in one word, I would say it is ‘delightful’. The book is a collection of essays on various topics – a school that teaches one how to make perfumes, the essential elements in a perfect village, the tale of a handsome butcher and tips to spend a summer afternoon in Provence.
I had such a lovely time reading this book! It charmed me to no end, made me laugh and smile, brought out the wanderlust in me, and made me ache to visit the Provence that Mayle so clearly loves. I want to see those lavender beds that he writes about, smell that thyme growing wild on the hills, talk to all those eccentric and interesting people, fall in love with that beautiful countryside, and gorge on all that delicious food.
Encore Provence is a fitting accompaniment to Mayle’s two earlier books about Provence, and I loved it just as much as I did the other books. Considering that Mayle has written three books about Provence, one would think there would be a lot of repetition and overlapping of ideas in them, but it is not so. Toujours Provence is different from A Year In Provence, and Encore Provence, again, is something new.
I love the way Mayle writes. There is not much description of scenery and flowery language and adjectives, but rather an emphasis on his own feelings, his own experiences with things and people in Provence. That said, the prose is not cold or unfeeling; it very much touches you. Mayle’s sarcastic wit and humour are present in all three books, making them fun and interesting reads.
Encore Provence surely gets a place in my most favourite travel books of all times. Do grab a copy, you guys! If you love reading about places, cultures and people, you will love this one, too.