Peter Mayle, the author of A Year In Provence and A Good Year — the latter the basis for Ridley Scott’s 2006 film — has died. The writer who was best known for chronicling his life as a British expat in the south of France passed away on Thursday after a short illness, his publisher Alfred A Knopf said. He was 78.
A Year In Provence was published in 1989 and became an international bestseller and one of the most popular travel books of all time. It was later turned into a television series for the BBC that starred John Thaw. It aired in the U.S. on A+E in 1993. Mayle’s 2004 novel, A Good Year, was plotted out with Scott who made it into Fox’s 2006 movie starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard.
Scott, who also has a home in Provence, hatched the idea for A Good Year with Mayle over dinner one night, the filmmaker told BBC Radio 4’s Today program this morning. He partly shot at the Chateau la Canorgue winery in Bonnieux where they still have pictures hanging on the wall that commemorate the film being made there. Scott also said today of Mayle’s writing, “It was all that humorous competitive spirit between the French and the English that Peter captured brilliantly.” He also captured “the silence of Provence, which is wonderful, the fragrance, smell, lavender in the countryside… You could feel whatever he did, touched, would work.”
Mayle began his career in advertising before writing a series of educational children’s books including Where Did I Come From? In the late ’80s, he moved to France.
He spent the last several years in a small Luberon town near Lourmarin and was a regular fixture and local celebrity in the area where I also live. After writing follow-ups to A Year In Provence, he more recently focused on a series of Caper books featuring sleuth Sam Levitt and his exploits in the south.
In 2002, the French government made Mayle a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur for his contributions to culture.