Chasing Cezanne – Peter Mayle, A Cute Beach Read

I bought Chasing Cezanne from a second-hand bookstore in Istanbul years ago, I loved the premise of its title, and its book cover is attractive. At that time, I didn’t have in mind to do a reading project on artists, but since I was always after artists, it was winking at me from the reading section of my library. Just as I was starting to read Chasing Cezanne, it was an unfortunate coincidence that I saw the news of the death of its author, Peter Mayle. Anyway!


Chasing Cezanne - Peter Mayle

Chasing Cezanne tells the story of the French photographer Andre, who saw a painting of Cezanne suspiciously removed from its owner’s house, and the fate of the painting. Peter Mayle is a famous writer for his books on Provence, and he does not give up on his love for France in this book.

After scrolling through the book for a while, I wondered if I was reading an essay praising France because I think the author has made it his business to squeeze the country’s food, landscapes and people all over the story. I recommend it if you want to read something about a very light chase story, a love as an aperitif and what happens in the background of the art world. I think this would make a great beach book. You can also giveChasing Cezanne a chance if you are going to France. Enjoy!

Chasing Cezanne - Peter Mayle

Chasing Cezanne

Chasing Cezanne: Hanky-panky on the international art scene is the source of the hilarity and fizz in Peter Mayle’s new novel. He flies us back to the south of France (a region some readers of his irresistible best-sellers believe him to have invented), on a wild chase through galleries, homes of prominent collectors, and wickedly delectable restaurants. There are stopovers in the Bahamas and England, and in New York, where that glossiest of magazines, Decorating Quarterly, reflects the cutting-edge trendiness of its editor, Camilla Jameson Porter. (Camilla has recently broken new ground in the world of power lunches by booking two tables on the same day, and shuttling between them, at the city’s trendiest restaurant.)

It is Camilla who has sent our hero, Andre Kelly, to Cap Ferrat to take glamorous photographs of the houses and treasures of the rich, famous, and fatuous. He happens to have his camera at the ready when he spots a Cézanne being loaded onto a plumber’s truck near the home of an absent collector. Odd, thinks Andre. And in no time he’s on the trail of a state-of-the-art art scam, chasing Cezanne.

It’s a joy to follow him and the crowds intent on speeding or foiling his quest–including a beautiful agent; a super-savvy art dealer attracted to the finer things in life, especially if they promise the payoff of a lifetime; an awesome Dutch forger; some outstandingly greedy New York sophisticates; and, invisible in the background, the parade of remarkable chefs whose mouthwatering culinary masterpieces periodically soothe the hero and tantalize the reader of Chasing Cezanne.

Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle (14 June 1939 – 18 January 2018) was a British businessman turned author who moved to France in the 1980s. He wrote a series of bestselling memoirs of his life there, beginning with A Year in Provence (1989).

Born in Brighton, Sussex, the youngest of three children, Mayle and his parents moved to Barbados in the aftermath of World War II, where his father was transferred as a Colonial Office employee. Mayle returned to England after leaving school at 16 in Barbados.

Mayle started off by writing educational books, including a series on sex education for children and young people. He also penned, in collaboration with illustrator Gray Jolliffe, a series of humorous books about the character Wicked Willie, based upon a personification of the male organ. He relocated from Devon to the Luberon, southern France, in the late 80s but his plans to write a novel were overtaken by an account of life in his new environment. This resulted in his 1989 book A Year in Provence which became an international bestseller, chronicling his first year as a British expatriate in Ménerbes, a village in the southern département Vaucluse.

Several more books followed, which have been translated in more than twenty languages. He also wrote for magazines and newspapers. A Year in Provence was subsequently produced as a TV series starring John Thaw and screened in 1993. The novel A Good Year was the basis for the 2006 film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott and starring actors Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. He wrote Chasing Cezanne in 1991.

Mayle relocated to Amagansett on Long Island, New York, to get away from fans and sightseers at his home in Provence. He subsequently returned to France and at the time of his death in 2018 resided in Vaugines, also situated in the Luberon, in Provence. He died in a hospital near his home in January 2018.

British Book Awards named A Year in Provence Best Travel Book of the Year (1989) and him Author of the Year (1992). The French government made him a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) in 2002, for coopération et francophonie.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Books about Art and Artists

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