Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
Toujours Provence - Peter Mayle After rereading A Year in Provence, my next logical book to read was Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle's follow-up to the wildly successful A Year in Provence. To be honest, while I could remember reading the first book, I had no recollection of reading Toujours Provence and now I remember why.::: When a Sequel Isn't a Sequel :::A Year in Provence dealt with Mayle and his wife's move to Provence, near the Lubéron, their struggles with the language, their interesting neighbors, and the renovations they were making to their house while they explored their new neighborhood. That book progressed logically a month at a time; relationships developed over periods of months; and renovations progress or don't progress as the year goes by.Toujours Provence takes the familiar neighbors, workmen, and narrative structure and tosses them all right out the window. No longer is there any sort of continuity to Mayle's writing, but rather a collection of short vignettes, some of which might tie into an earlier story or theme, but most that just seem like a glimpse into lives we were given a front-row seat to in A Year in Provence.Chapters in Toujours Provence are given actual titles, a departure from the month titles of the previous book, and it's very telling. The titles feel like titles to magazine articles, which each short section might very well be. We get short stories without much follow-through, and as the book progresses, the readers is left to feel almost as if they are being pushed back from an interesting scene by a police barricade. A first glimpse of the Mayles' life as Madame Mayle adopts a new dog (bringing their total to three) toward the beginning of the book gives way to fewer and fewer mentions of Madame Mayle, fewer interactions with the fascinating neighbors like Massot and Faustin we met in A Year in Provence, and more and more of a feeling that Mayle is saying the "nos" to his readers that he isn't able to say to the guests who invite themselves for vacations at his house.::: Is It Horrible? :::Toujours Provence is in no means a horrible book, and if expectations after A Year in Provence weren't so high, it would probably be a very decent read: witty and interesting. But I don't find it odd at all that there were several reviews of the first book, which won awards, and no reviews of Toujours Provence, because it just isn't that memorable a book. I think that Mayle kept the reader at too far a distance with this book for it to be the must-read that its predecessor was, and that's a great loss.This review previously published at Epinions:

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