La Belle Provence
Falling in Love With Provence
The Anglo-Saxon world found out about Provence , a splendid southeastern region of France with the autobiographical works of Peter Mayle A Year in Provence, followed by two sequels (Toujours Provence and Encore Provence). With humor and wit, Peter Mayle describes his move to an old farmhouse in that region and his frustrating but hilarious dealings with the locals.
The Provence charm and its colorful characters are also depicted in Elizabeth Adler's Invitation to Provence and most recently Bridget Asher's bestseller's The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted. In both novels, the delicious flavors, bright colors and generous people of the region seduce the visitors.
Filming the Enchantment
The quaint villages nested on the hills near the fields of lavender, olive trees, vineyards and orchards are beautifully filmed by Claude Berry in his diptych "Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring". This poignant story reveals the deep attachment of the Provencaux to their demanding Mediterranean land but also the tragic relationships which sometimes exist between families of a same village. There are still some, nowadays, who have not talked to each other for generations!
My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle are also based on Marcel Pagnol's famous novels. They describe his childhood summers spent in a pastoral retreat where every small event becomes a celebration, a joy, a tribute to the beauty of the region.
Solving Mysteries in a Picturesque Locale
Several crime novelists have chosen Provence for their stories.
French author Pierre Magnan (born in Manosque, Alpes de Haute Provence), inquires into the ancient family feuds, utilizes the relentless, eerie atmosphere of the dry lands, the ghostly wind (le mistral: told to provoke fits of dementia)as a Gothic background. Most of his scenes take place at night especially in The Murdered House and Messengers of Death.
Although dealing with tragic happenings, Graham R Wood with "Death in Provence" and M.L Longworth with Death at the Chateau Bremont, give a softer, more romantic vision of Southern France: gourmet meals at the cafes, marches paysans, rustic decors and bucolic villages.
Unearthing the Legends, Myths and Poetry
The three most illustrious authors of Provence are Alphonse Daudet, Jean Giono and Frederic Mistral. Their works--which are studied in all French schools and universities--are determined by the Provencal history and collective memories.
Alphonse Daudet wrote mostly for the young and his short stories such as "The Pope's Mule" or "Tartarin of Tarascon" have been translated in many languages.
As for Giono, his historical novel" The Horseman on the Roof" is now a movie which has even more success than "Regain (Second Harvest)," his celebrated tale of pastoral solitude.
"Mireille" is the most famous epic lyrical poem of Mistral, it is made of twelve songs and originally written in the native language : le provencal
Jocelyne C. was born and raised in the Alpes de Haute Provence. Her favorite "auteur Provencal" is Marcel Pagnol.