An Absolute Treasure!
Tiggah | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 01/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Year in Provence is a thoroughly enjoyable, witty, humorous series starring the late John Thaw (Inspector Morse, Kavanagh QC), who sadly died of throat cancer in 2002. The series is based on the real-life experiences of Peter Mayle and his wife who left their jobs and lives in England to move to the south of France. Mayle's intention was to settle in this idyllic corner of paradise to write a novel; what resulted was a memoir which served as the basis for this splendid series. Beginning in winter, the series covers the Mayles' first year in Provence and dramatises the many trials and tribulations they faced in adjusting to the local customs and peculiarities (like goat racing and truffle hunting) and to their new environment. There were the gale-force winter winds ("les Mistrals") to contend with; added to that, the lovely, rustic old farmhouse they bought came complete (alas) with inadequate insulation, frozen water pipes, and no central heating! While the laid-back, lazy lifestyle may have been an attraction when the Mayles were in England, they soon learn it has its drawbacks when it comes to getting anything done--like the much-needed repairs and renovations by the builders! Then there's the joy of entertaining visitors from back home, the pleasure of which is somewhat dimmed when they find they've inadvertently overlapped the visits of three couples. The series has been presented in a boxed set of four 90-minute episodes--one for each season from Winter through Autumn. Each episode is broken down into three 30-minute parts--one for each month of the season. Though we chose to watch the series in its 90-minute blocks, one could easily watch it in half-hour blocks if one preferred.In conclusion, I highly, highly recommend this delightful series to anyone who enjoys British entertainment in general. I'm extremely glad I took a chance on this set as it's been a series our whole family has really enjoyed watching (and one we look forward to watching again in the not-too-distant future). I might just mention (in case it's not obvious!) that one ought not to expect any heavy drama or an action-packed, intricately plotted series here. This is simply not that kind of show. In fact, I'd have to say that really belongs in a genre all its own. It is a nice clean, relaxing show with no sex, violence or bad language--just a plethora of entertaining and often hilarious incidents set against the pastoral backdrop of the gorgeous Provencal landscape. Just perfect (in my opinion) for unwinding at the end of the day!"
douglas barton | Arlington, Va. | 10/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone reading my reviews on Peter Mayle's two novel's on Provence are well aware of the admiration I have for those books. Having read each several times over....and given many more away as gifts I was truly excited, yet apprehensive about making these "jewels" into a mini-series. Even with the BBC at the helm I was concerned about them maintaining the integrity of Mr. Mayle's novel's. So when they were released on PBS I held my breath... and waited for the worst. Well, I'm now breathing again! What a wonderful surprise! Peter and Annie,as portrayed by John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan, are marvelously captured in all of the glories that make up Provence and their stories have been reworked into screen format that make the books literally come to life. The series is visually stunning, the characters that we cared about so much in the books are vividly captured and in some cases even fleshed out better than in Mr. Mayle's novels. And where did they find these truly gifted French actors? I know,I know...in France! Well, there's simply not a bad apple in this barrell! As you can see from all these exclamation points I am very happy with the finished product. So happy that I actually purchased my very own copy on DVD. Something I simply wouldn't normally do! Oui!!The spirit of the books have remained intact and, especially Mr. Thaw, does a wonderful job of portraying "innocent's abroad" in each chapter, broken up as seasons in the series. An idea which I loved! And kudos go to director David Tucker for having the sense to give the film a true beginning by placing our protagonists in London,giving the series the feel of a new start for Peter and Annie and of the difference in existing cultures which was imperative for a film such as this to really work. Now, while some may see the series as being little more than an adult "fairy tale", I simply tend to enjoy this for what it may be intended. A wonderful series about people searching for their own little paradise and finding it in the most peculiar places. In their own hearts. Enjoy! P.S. Is there any chance of making "Hotel Pastis" into a series?"
Better Than the Book!
takingadayoff | Las Vegas, Nevada | 01/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 4-video set is one of those rare birds -- an adaptation that is better then the original book. Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence is good, but the screenplay made a few important changes that made all the difference.The addition of a wife for Mayle is the main difference. While Mayle has a wife in the book, she fades so far into the background as to be virtually invisible. I see from the dedication in the book that her name is Jenny, but since the screenwriter had to create a wife out of whole cloth here, he gave her a new name as well -- Annie. The addition of Annie and the casting of Lindsay Crouse make all the difference.Another difference was to subtract ex-spouses and grown children, which serves to streamline the story. Peter in the film is somewhat more short-tempered and loud than Peter in the book, but this makes a nice contrast with Annie. And who is going to make himself out to be a blowhard in his own book, after all? The rest of the story is much as Mayle wrote it.This set has become one of our family favorites. We borrowed the public library's copies several times, then finally bought our own and watch it at least once a year. It's broken down into twelve 30-minute chapters, one for each month. You can watch it in half hour chunks or 90-minute doses, a whole season (and tape) at a time. The chapters stand alone, but are also threaded together to make a real story. In fact, the story comes together so neatly, that one suspects that although these episodes may really have happened, perhaps they happened over a period of several years, or in a different order. Still, some of the best non-fiction writers out there are novelists at heart.The acting and the scenery in A Year in Provence are just great. The French characters are played by French actors and speak no English in the film. Since the Mayles are learning French, they are able to translate for us and it doesn't seem awkward. There you have it: entertaining writing, good acting, gorgeous scenery, and a free French lesson thrown in."
I Felt I Was There
G. Scott Crumley | Austin, Texas | 07/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This set of videos will give you hours of pleasure and make you want to pack up and make the grand move to France. What a wonderful visual delight to see France and share the fun that Peter Mayle and his lovely wife must have experienced. My wife and I could barely stop watching at the end of each video tape. The story captures your heart and mind. The humor is subtle and every so delectable. It leaves you wanting to spend another Year in Provence. I would highly recommend the video set if you want to see Mr. Mayle's work put on the screen."