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HOTEL PASTIS by Peter Mayle (Vintage:...

HOTEL PASTIS by Peter Mayle (Vintage: $12; 389 pp.). Mayle’s “Novel of Provence” reads like a collaboration between Noel Coward and Jacques Pepin. Bored with business, genial British advertising executive Simon Shaw (who bears a striking resemblance to Mayle) finds a charming mistress, a new career and lot of good food and wine in a tiny Provencal village. Mayle’s characters are drawn with the subtlety of a Victorian mellerdrama, and like a mellerdrama, the audience knows that the nasty people (rapacious ex-wife, obnoxious big-shot, pompous journalist) will get their comeuppance, and the nice people will be rewarded. Still, “Hotel Pastis” is probably the ideal to book to read on a plane to Marseille or Nice.


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