Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sophistication Worn So Lightly It Doesn't Fall Flat

For almost every book about which I've posted so far, I've had, at the very least, expectations of how much I would enjoy it (and of course, for several I knew almost *exactly* what to expect, because I'm a creature of habit :)) But this Shabbos's priority reading, given that it's due on Monday (after nine weeks out) was Peter Mayle's A Vintage Caper.  I thought this was the author's second novel, but apparently it's only his second novel that I've read - but whatever.  I read his novels because I'm a fan (not a huge fan, but a fan) of his travel books, about life in the Frence pronvince of Provence - obviously a rosy eyed and whitewashed if not fairy tale view of French country life, but fun all the more so :) (and Huvi does get credit for introducing me to the series if she's reading this :))

But I read those books years ago, and I read his first novel a while ago, and don't remember at all well.  So if I was expecting anything at all, it was a slightly pretentious book, given that the book was about wine and France by a total Francophile.  And while I do love reading about all things French, I wouldn't say I'm an unquestioning Francophile myself... too much other stuff going on that I know ruins that whole romantic image.  But mostly, I really just wasn't too much looking forward to the book one way or another and my only real assumption was that it would be about France.

Well it was about France, and the French, and it definitely had all that pretension about fine food, fine wine, and uncouth Americans but surprising... it was *not* pretentious.  It wasn't even really a mystery - more of a light con novel.  You know the genre... or maybe not - I actually can't think off hand of any con books I've read, though there must be some, but it's Ocean's Eleven, The Sting and that type of thing.  And I like smart con men books! and of course, I like light books - there was obviously some tension, but actually, nothing ever went wrong - it all just flowed along, interspersed with *a lot* of description of French food and some of French hotels - to which I am not necessarily averse, when sprinkled in judiciously.  Well they were that judiciously sprinkled, so it was slighly distracting, but not enough to ruin the book.

And deliciously enough, there was decent romance going on! First I thought it was all one of those male point of view books written by men which are just not fun to read, but Sam's relationship with Elena was pretty cute and had a nice ending to round off the finish - while it was not the main point of the book.  And the final note was a perfect ending for this type of thing - one of those little "it's not over yet" con things.

So a good book - and less pretentious than I expected, so I can't complain :)
Verdict: 3.5/5 (well it's not my *favorite genre)
Food: It was, as I said, somewhat out of my comfort zone, but surprisingly good, even if there were some bits not exactly to my liking... I'll go with a milchigs restaurant salad - there's always some vegetable or cheese I don't like in there, but there's also something good like grilled eggplant (or I wouldn't order it :)) and as long as the vegetables are fresh, it's good!

Oh, the only thing was, the whole thing felt a little dated... like there *are* no con men anymore, and that whole Hollywood lifestyle just doesn't hold any attraction (well to me anyway...) and as for France - if it was *ever* that way, it sure ain't now... but what do I know? and I think he does acknowledge the book is more a fantasy than a realistic depiction of anything... but I'm just proud of myself for picking up on this so I'm putting it in :) 

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