After his success with travel memoirs A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle turned his charmingly wicked pen to fiction. Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence tells the story of the burned-out London ad man who uses his prodigious fortune to buy and renovate a venerable building in the Luberon region of France. Along the way he meets the love of his life and gets involved in a ludicrous bank robbery turned kidnapping.
About one-third through Hotel Pastis, I realized that I had read it before. The vision of seven ex-cons training for the bicycle ride of their life was a plot trick that one remembers vividly. Conveniently, I didn’t remember how it turned out, so I read Pastis eagerly all the way to the somewhat predictable ending.
The fact that I read this book before didn’t dilute my enthusiasm for Peter Mayle in general. I love his recipe for a fun read: one part luscious Provence, one part longing for the “gettingawayfromitall” simple life, and many parts humor. If you haven’t read Hotel Pastis, it’s available for you to borrow from my bookshelf.
P.S. If you want to do something a little special for me for Valentine’s Day — and you know who you are — you could book me into this lovely version of Hotel Pastis in St. Tropez.