Dreaming of Provence

August 13, 2012

This is the second in a continuing series of selective book lists about perennially interesting places. The first list, about Tuscany, is here.

Titles are grouped by topic, in most cases with the most recent titles listed first.

Most of these books are available from the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. If you have a borrower’s card with AFPLS, you can obtain any title AFPLS doesn’t own by submitting, at any library, an Interlibrary Loan form (available on the library system’s website, www.afpls.org). Titles NOT owned by AFPLS are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Please contact us if we’ve inadvertently omitted one of your own favorite books about Provence, or let us know if there are  other book lists you’d like to see compiled and posted to the Atlanta Booklover’s Blog.

NONFICTION

Overviews

  • Provence: People, Places, Food: A Cultural Guide (2012) by Cheryl Robson and Martin N. Gilbert*
  • Provence: Art, Architecture, Landscape (2010) by Rolf Toman (and others)*
  • Provence: A Cultural History (2006, 2012) by Martin Garrett*
  • La Belle Vie: The Textures and Tones of Dreamy Provence (2012) by Barbara Stoeltie (and others)*
  • Seeking Provence: Old Myths, New Paths (2008) by Nicholas Woodsworth*
  • Provence: Past and Present (2001) by Silvana Rizzi
  • Colors of Provence: Traditions, Recipes, and Home Decorations from the South of France (1997) by Michel Biehn
  • Sara Midda’s South of France: A Sketch Book (1990) by Sara Midda
  • Provence: Land of Enchantment (1965) by Francois Cali

Mostly Photographs

  • Provence: Lasting Impressions (2012) by Joel Meyerowitz and Maggie Barrett*
  • The Secrets of Provence (2008) by Diane Canwell and Jonathan Sutherland
  • Provence: 500 Photos (2005) by Gerard Sioen*
  • Tour de Provence (2001) by Julian More; photos by John Miller
  • Provence: The Art of Living (1996) by Sara Walden; photos by Solvi dos Santos
  • The Most Beautiful Villages of Provence (1994, 2012) by Michael Jacobs; photos by Hugh Palmer
  • The Most Beautiful Country Towns of Provence (1994, 2002) by Helena Atlee; photos by Alex Ramsay
  • Provence (1994) by Peter Mayle; photos by Jason Hawkes
  • Provence (1993) by Marie-Ange Guillaume; photos by Sonja Bullaty and Angelo Lomeo
  • Provence: A Country Almanac (1993) by Louisa L. Jones
  • Provence by John Flower (1987)
  • Views from a French Farmhouse (1985) by Julian More; photos by Carey More

Memoirs

“…I think life here is a happier thing than in countless other spots on the earth.” – Van Gogh

Just as the American writer Frances Mayes virtually cornered the market for English-language readers interested in what it’s like to live in Tuscany, the many books by British-born Peter Mayle are the titles about Provence that most readers have heard of:  A Year in Provence (1989, 1991), Toujours Provence (1992), and Encore Provence (1999).

Other multiple-memoir authors who’ve described their adventures in Provence are Anne-Marie Simons: Taking Root in Provence (2011)* and Ten Years in Provence (2008)*; James Ivey’s trilogy: Extremely Pale Rose: A Very French Adventure (2006), Rose en Marche: Running a Market Stall in Provence (2008),* and La Vie en Rose (2008)*; and Carol Drinkwater’s five memoirs: The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Olive Oil (2001), The Olive Season: Amour, A New Life, and Olives Too (2003), The Olive Harvest (2007),* The Olive Tree: A Personal Journey through Mediterranean Olive Groves (2008),* and Return to the Olive Farm (2010)*

Other recent records of foreigners’ personal adventures in Provence include:

  • 28 Days in Provence: Food and Family in the Heart of France (2012) by Shannon Bennett
  • My French Affair: How a Kiwi Woman Found Her Joie de Vivre in the South of France (2012) by Amanda Taylor-Ace*
  • Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard: A Memoir of Provence (2011) by Ruth Phillips*
  • Blossoming in Provence (2011) by Kristin Espinasse*
  • Provence, Je t’aime (2008) by Gordon Bitney*
  • Lavender and Linen (2008) by Henrietta Taylor*
  • We’ve Always Had Paris – and Provence: A Scrapbook of Our Life in France (2008) by Patricia and Walter Wells
  • Strangers in Paradise: A Memoir of Provence (2007) by Paul Christensen*
  • Where the Heart Is: A Writer in Provence (2006) by Marita Van der Vyver*
  • A Journey into Matisse’s South of France (2006) by Laura McPhee
  • Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream (2005) by James Morgan
  • Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France (2006) by Kristin Espinasse
  • Provence for All Seasons: A Journey (2003) by Gordon Bitney*
  • The Magic of Provence: Pleasures of Southern France (2000) by Yvone Lenard
  • A Window on Provence: One Summer’s Sojourn into the Simple Life (1990) by Bo Niles

An earlier generation of writers also published memoirs of their time in Provence:

  • Living Well is the Best Revenge (1971, 1998) by Calvin Tompkins
  • A Farmhouse in Provence (1969) by Mary Roblee Henry
  • Two Towns in Provence (1964, 1978, 1983) by M.F.K. Fisher
  • Aspects of Provence (1952) by James Pope-Hennessy
  • Perfume from Provence (1937, 2009) by Winifred Fortescue [born 1888]
  • Provence, from Minstrels to the Machine (1935, 1979, 1984, 2009) by Ford Madox Ford [died 1939]

Architecture and Interior Design

  • French Essence: Ambience, Beauty, and Style in Provence (2010) by Louisa Jones*
  • Provencal Living (2007) by Andreas Einsiedel*
  • Provencal Escapes: Inspirational Homes in Provence and the Cote d’Azur (2005) by Caroline Clifton-Mogg*
  • New French Country: A Style and Source Book (2004) by Linda Dannenbert
  • Living in Provence (2003) by Dane McDowell*
  • The Provencal House (2003) by Johanna Thornycroft
  • Provence Style: The Art of Home Decoration (2002) by Noell Duck and Christian Sarramon

Gardens

  • Provence Artists’ Gardens (2008) by Julia Droste-Hennings
  • New Gardens in Provence: 30 Contemporary Creations (2004) by Vicki Archer and Carla Coulson
  • Cezanne’s Garden (2003) by Derek Fell
  • French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France (1991) by Richard Goodman
  • The Gardens of Provence and the French Riviera (1987) by Michel Racine (and others)

History

  • Roman Provence: A History and Guide (2011) by Edwin B. Mullins*
  • Luminous Debris: Reflections of Vestige in Provence and Languedo (1999) by Gustaf Sobin
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Journey to the South of France (1999) by Roy Moore
  • Provence (1994) by Lawrence Durrell*
  • Village in the Vacluse (4th ed., 1977) by Lawrence Wylie

 

Literature

  • A Literary Guide to Provence (2001) by Daniel Vitaglione
  • The South of France: An Anthology (1985) edited by Laura Raison*

 

Art

  • Cezanne in Provence (2000) by Evmarie Schmitt
  • Vincent Van Gogh: Letters from Provence (1990) introduction by Martin Bailey*

 

Crafts

  • Quilts of Provence (2007) by Kathryn Berenson
  • The French Country Table: Pottery and Faience of Provence (2003) by Bernard Duplessy

 

Cookbooks

The cultivation, preparation, and enjoyment of food is a major social activity for the people who live in Provence, and the food is a huge draw, both for foreign visitors and for cooks who want to reproduce in their home kitchen some memorable feast they experienced in a trip to Provence. A sampling, both new and old, of Provencal cookery titles:

  • Lunch in Provence (2012) by Jean-Andre Charial and Rachael McKenna*
  • Summer Food in Provence (2010) by Marita Van der Vyver*
  • The Provencal Cookbook (2009) by Guy Gedda and Marie-Pierre Moine*
  • Provencal Cooking (2008) by Mary Ann Caws*
  • The Flavors of Provence (2008) by Isabelle Borchgiave and Jean-Andre Charial*
  • Cooking in Provence (2008) by Alex Mackay*
  • A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France (2007) by Georgeanne Brennan
  • Cooking School Provence: Shop, Cook, and Eat Like a Local (2007) by Gui Gedda and marie-Pierre Moine
  • Provence Harvest (2005) by Louisa Jones (and others)*
  • The Provence Cookbook (2004) by Patricia Wells
  • Savoring Provence: Recipes and Reflections on Provencal Cooking (2002) by Diane Holuique
  • The Provence of Alaine Ducasse (2000) by Alain Ducasse
  • Patricia Wells at Home in Provence: Recipes Inspired by Her Farmhouse in Provence (1999) by Patricia Wells
  • The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence (1997) by Georgeanne Brennan
  • A Flavor of Provence (1996) by Katy Holder
  • Lulu’s Provencal Table: The Exuberant Food and Wine from Domaine Tempier Vineyard by Richard Olney (1994)
  • Picnics of Provence: French Country-Style Picnics to Enjoy at Home (1993) by Craig Pyes
  • Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook (1993) by Richard Olney; photos by Michael Freeman and others
  • Feasts of Provence (1992) by Robert Carrier
  • Bouquet de Provence: Seasonal Recipes from l’Ousteau de Bauman (1990) by Jean-Andre Charial-Thuilier
  • A Taste of Provence: Classic Recipes from the South of France (1987) by Leslie Forbes
  • Cuisine of the Sun (1979) by Roger Verge*
  • The Wonderful Food of Provence (1968) by Jean-Noel Escudier
  • French Provincial Cooking (1960) by Elizabeth David

FICTION

Novels Set in Provence

The well-known Provence-popularizer Peter Mayle (whose memoir series are listed above) also wrote three humorous novels set in this part of the world: Hotel Pastis (1993), A Dog’s Life (1995), and A Good Year (2004) – plus two light-hearted mysteries, Chasing Cezanne (1997) and The Village Caper (2009).

Thirty years ago saw the publication of Lawrence Durrell’s considerably more reader-challenging novels set in Provence, novels collectively referred to as his “Avignon Quintet”: Monsieur (1974), Livia (1978), Constance (1982), Sebastian (1983), and Quinx (1985).

Earlier literary novels set in Provence, now considered classics, include Cyril Connolly’s satire The Rock Pool (1936), and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical Tender is the Night (1934).

Of course, there are numerous contemporary novels to choose from as well:

  • The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted (2011) by Bridget Asher
  • The Lantern (2011) by Deborah Lawrenson
  • The Ruby Notebook (2010) by Laura Resau
  • The Last Estate (2010) by Conor Bowman
  • An Angel in Provence (2009) by Nancy Robards Thompson*
  • Invitation to Provence (2004) by Elizabeth Adler
  • Where Do We Go from Here? (2001) by Doris Dorrie [translated from the German]
  • Artistic License (2001) by Katie Fforde
  • Fool’s Gold (2000) by Jane S. Smith
  • The Fly-Truffler (1999) by Gustaf Sobin

Mysteries Set in Provence

Those who particularly enjoy detective or suspense fiction have many Provence-setting titles to choose from. These include a series by Martin O’Brien – Jacquot and the Angel (2006), Jacquot and the Waterman (2006),  and Jacqot and the Master (2007)*; a series by Pierre Magnan: The Messengers of Death (2008, 2010) and Death in the Truffle Wood (2007); and a series by M.L. Longworth: Murder in the Rue Dumas (2012)* and Death in the Chateau Bremont (2011).

Additional mysteries:

  • Bellringer (2012) by J. Robert James
  • Riddles in Provence (2011) by Jane E.M. Robinson*
  • Strange Images of Death (2010) by Beverly Cleverly
  • Friends in High Places (2007) by Marne Davis Kellogg
  • The Templar Legacy (2006) by Steve Berry
  • L’Assassin (2008) by Peter Steiner
  • The Villa (2006) by Sarah Sands
  • Unauthorized Departure (2003) by Maureen O’Brien
  • Brilliant (2003) by Marne Davis Kellogg
  • To Die in Provence (1998) by Norman Bogner
  • Dying on the Vine (1998) by Peter King
  • The Cezanne Chase (1997) by Thomas Swan
  • The Provence Puzzle (1980) by Vincent McConner
  • Caravan to Vaccares (1970, 1985, 2012) by Alistair Maclean

 

Historical Fiction Set in Provence

  • Four Sisters, All Queens (2012) by Sherry Jones
  • The Blood of Lorraine (2011) by Barbara Corrado Pope
  • Cezanne’s Quarry (2008) by Barbara Corrado Pope
  • Flames Over Provence (1998) by Peter Leslie*
  • The Queen from Provence (1989) by Jean Plaidy
  • Token (1955) by Samuel Shellabarger

 

Fantasy Novels Set in Provence

  • The Blessed (2008) by Lisa Tawn Bergen
  • Ysabel (2007) by Guy Gavrel Kay
  • Cover the Butter (2005) by Carrie Kabak
  • The Sacred Pool (2001) by L. Warren Douglas

Movies Filmed in Provence

These include the feature films Jean de Florette (2007), A Good Year (2006), My Father’s Glory (1992), A Year in Provence (1993), and My Mother’s Castle (La chateau de ma mere) (1999), and the following documentaries:

  • Cezanne in Provence (2006)
  • Provence (Acorn Media, 2004)
  • Provence (Visions of France, 2004)
  • Provence (On the Backroads, 2002)
  • The Landscape of Pleasure (Ambrose Video, no date)

Travel Guides

“There is the first time we go abraod, and the first time we go to Provence. – Cyril Connolly (Enemies of Promise, 1938)

If, after examining some of the previously-listed nonfiction titles, or after reading a novel set in Provence, you find yourself wanting to plan a trip to the area, the library system has a wide selection of travel guides. These include guidebooks devoted to Provence (and/or the Riviera) fromall the main guidebook publishers – Cadogan, DK Eyewitness, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Globetrotter, Insight, Landmark Visitor, Lonely Planet, National Geographic Traveler, Open Roads, Phaedon, Rick Steves, The Collected Traveler, Thomas Cook, and Time Out).

The following non-series guidebook titles are also available:

  • Provence A-Z (2007) by Peter Mayle
  • Secret Provence (2006) by Jean-Pierre Cassely*
  • Caesar’s Vast Ghost: Aspects of Provence (2002) by Lawrence Durrell*
  • Hidden Gems of Southern France (2002) by Luc Quisenaerts
  • Southern France: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (2001) by Henry Cleere
  • The Unknown South of France: The History Buff’s Guide (1991) by Henry S. Reuss
  • A Guide to Provence (1988) by Michael Jacobs*

Audiobooks

Most library copies of these titles are on CD; a few are available only in cassette format:

  • A Year in Provence (1989, 1997) by Peter Mayle
  • The Vintage Caper (2009) by Peter Mayle
  • Deliver Us from Evil (2010) by David Baldacci
  • Provence A to Z (2006) by Peter Mayle
  • Cover the Butter (2005) by Carrie Kabak
  • Invitation to Provence (2004) by Elizabeth Adler
  • A Good Year (2004) by Peter Mayle
  • Encore Provence (1999) by Peter Mayle
  • A Dog’s Life (1995) by Peter Mayle
  • Hotel Pastis (1994) by Peter Mayle
  • Toujours Provence (1991, 1993) by Peter Mayle

Armchair Travel: Tuscany

July 1, 2009

If you’ve always wanted to travel to Tuscany, or are lucky enough to have been there, you can feed your fantasies or rekindle your memories through a number of books about (or set in) that particularly congenial region of Italy. Here are some recommended titles, listed by publication date [list updated March 15, 2011]. All of them can be borrowed from the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library:

 Memoirs:

  • Every Day in Tuscany by Frances Mayes (2010)
  • The Wisdom of Tuscany: Simplicity, Security, and the Good Life by Ferenc Máté (2010)
  • A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: Exploring & Eating Off The Beaten Track by Beth Elon (2009)
  • A Small Place in Italy by Eric Newby (2008)
  • Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine and Family in the Heart of Italy by Sergio Esposito (2008)
  • A Day in Tuscany: More Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide by Dario Castagno (2007)
  • Tuscan Light: Memories of Italy by Mark Gordon Smith (2007)
  • A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream by Ferenc Máté (2007)
  • Ah! Tuscany: The Enlightenment of an Expatriate by Don McPherson (2006)
  • In Tuscany by Frances Mayes (2006)
  • The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian by Phil Doran (2005)
  • A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure by Marlena de Blasi (2004).
  • Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide by Dario Catagno (2004)
  • Tuscan Echoes: A Season in Italy by Mark Gordon Smith (2003)
  • Botticelli Blue Skies: An American in Florence by Merrill Joan Gerber (2002)
  • Florence: A Delicate Case by David Leavitt (2002)
  • In Maremma: Life and a House in Southern Tuscany by David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell. (2002)
  • Seven Years in Tuscany by Amanda Ferragamo (2002)
  • A Garden in Luca: Finding Paradise in Tuscany by Paul Gervais (2000)
  • In Tuscany by Frances Mayes (2000)
  • A Tuscan Childhood by Kenta Beevor (2000)
  • Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes (1999)
  • The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land byFerenc Mate (1999)
  • A Tuscan Paradise by Maria Schinz (1998)
  • The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings by R.W.B. Lewis (1996)
  • The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley by Elizabeth Romer (1996)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes (1996)
  • War in Val D’Orcia 1943-1944: A Diary by Iris Origo (1995)
  • Within Tuscany: Reflections on a Time and Place by Matthew Spender (1992)
  • Italian Hours by Henry James (1909)

Novels set in Tuscany:

  • A Hilltop in Tuscany by Stephanie Grace Whitson (2006)
  • Secrets of Sant’Angelo by Jeff Shapiro (2005)
  • Tuscany for Beginners by Imogen Edwards-Jones (2004)
  • The Birth of Venus by Sara Dunant (2003)
  • Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler (2002)
  • The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland (2002)
  • The English Patient by Micahel Ondaatje (1992)
  • Ratking by Michael Dibdin (1989)
  • Summer’s Lease by John Mortimer (1988)
  • Death in Autumn by Magdalen Nabb (1985)
  • Death of a Dutchman by Magdalen Nabb (1984)
  • Innocence by Penelope Fitzgerald (1986)
  • Tuscan Spring: A Novel about Sandro Botticelli by James Cleugh (1939)
  • Aaron’s Rod by D.H. Lawrence (1921)
  • The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (1913)
  • A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (1905)
  • Indian Summer by William Dean Howells (1886)

You can read excerpts from some of these books – and from dozens of shorter memoirs collected from magazine articles – in:

  • Tuscany in Mind: An Anthology edited by Alice Leccese Powers (2005)
  • Tuscany: True Stories edited by James O’Reilly and Tara Austen Weaver (2002)
  • Italy in Mind edited by Alice Leccese Powers (1997)
  • Desiring Italy edited by Susan Cahill (1997)

 Heartstoppingly gorgeous photographs of the area can be found in:

  • Tuscan Country: A Photographer’s Journey by Wes Walker (2007)
  • One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Italy by Paolo Lazzarin (2004)
  • Tuscany: Inside the Light by Joel Meyerowitz (2003)
  • The Most Beautiful Country Towns of Tuscany by James Bentley and Alex Ramsay (2001)
  • The Most Beautiful Villages of Tuscany by James Bentley and Hugh Palmer (1995)
  • Views from a Tuscan Vineyard by Carey More and Julian More (1987)

Aside from numerous Italian (and specifically Tuscan) cookbooks – some of them with sumptuous photographs of the countryside – that you can also borrow from the library, there are also plenty of non-scholarly books about Tuscan art, architecture, and home interiors. A small sample:

  • Tuscan Living by Simon McBride (2006)
  • Bringing Tuscany Home by Frances Mayes (2004)
  • Tuscan Elements by Alexandra Black (2002)
  • Tuscany Interiors by Paolo Rinaldi (1998)
  • The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy (1963)
  • Tuscan Cities by William Dean Howells (1900)

If you’d like to augment your reading with some movies set in Tuscany, you can borrow these as well from the library system’s collections:

  • The English Patient (1996)
  • Life is Beautiful (1998)
  • Much Ado about Nothing (1993)
  • The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982)
  • A Room with a View (1986)
  • Shadows in the Sun (2006)
  • Stealing Beauty (1996)
  • Swept Away (1975)
  • Swept Away (2002)
  • Tea with Mussolini (1999)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
  • Up at the Villa (2000)

And when you’re ready to plan your first or next trip to Tuscany, the library has a wide variety of guidebooks, both to Italy in general and to Tuscany in particular, that you may borrow.

P.S. If your top travel fantasies or memories involve someplace other than Italy, the library probably has plenty of materials on that place too! In fact, next time you’re in the Ponce Branch, you might want to poke around in the book display there about Armchair Travel. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, check the library catalog and start stocking up.

Bon voyage!

Several sources were used to compile this list, including the literary anthology Italy in Mind edited by Alice Leccese Powers (1997); websites such as http://italyfever.blogspot.com/, http://goitaly.about.com/od/tuscany/tp/tuscanybooks.htm, and  http://www.initaly.com/itathome/books/tuscany.htmand travel guidebooks (such as Lonely Planet’s Tuscany & Umbria and Fodor’s Florence, Tuscany & Umbria. The websites and guidebooks include synopses of many of the recommended book titles.