Peter Mayle is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Acquired Tastes, A Year in Provence, and French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew. A recipient of the Legion d'Honneur from the French government for his cultural contributions, he lives in Provence with his wife.
Having dissected the pleasures of life in the south of France in his popular A Year in Provence ( LJ 4/1/90) and Toujours Provences ( LJ 5/1/91), Mayle turns his witty and keen eye on the lifestyles and spending habits of the very, very, very rich. In this collection of pieces from GQ magazine, he describes the ritual of ordering a pair of $1300 hand-made shoes. ``Everything is measured: altitude of instep, curve of heel, contours and slope of the metatarsal range. You might even be asked if you normally wear your toenails that length, because millimeters count.'' Mayle advises the reader on selecting the right stretch limousine. ``White is vulgar, gray is a compromise banker's color, puce and magenta and antique crackle-finish gold are not for gentlemen.'' He explains to the neophyte the proper way to eat true caviar (forget the sour cream, anchovies, chopped onions and capers, and hard-boiled eggs). While there is no great depth here, Mayle's amusing observations provide die-hard fans of Dynasty and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with a few hours of pure hedonistic escapism.-- Wilda Williams, ``Library Journal''
On assignment for GQ (where these tonic pieces first appeared), Mayle sallied forth to sample the little luxuries of the richest, the best that life is reputed to offer. With unabashed gusto he praises good cigars, grand hotels, Parisian bistros, second homes, antiques and fresh truffles. With swank savvy he reviews the advantages and drawbacks of servants, the pleasures and costs of mistresses. His excursions comprise an informal buyer's guide to single-malt whiskies, pure Mongolian cashmere, deluxe shirts and hand-made London shoes. For ballast, Mayle ( A Year in Provence ) presents curmudgeonly diatribes on lawyers, tipping, New Year's resolutions, writers' gripes, Christmas (``the universal expensive habit'') and Manhattan's giddy spending opportunities. This delightful celebration of the little (and not-so-little) extravagances that make life worth living scintillates with wit, brio and trenchant observations on the best and the second-rate. (May)
"Mr. Mayle is a writer who never fails to entertain. If he were
told to go forth and write about doorknobs, he would return with a
witty, perceptive essay."-The New York Times Book Review
"One of the finest modern writers on matters that deal with taste."-Craig Claiborne
"Much, much fun-and best read with a magnum of Dom Perignon and a four-pound tin of Beluga caviar."-Kirkus Reviews
"Witty and stylish . . . These hilarious essays are vintage Mayle."-James Villas, author of The French Country Kitchen
"This delightful celebration of the little (and not-so-little) extravagances that make life worth living scintillates with wit, brio and trenchant observations"-Publishers Weekly