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Having delighted millions of Americans with A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle treats us to a wonderfully entertaining novel of escape, romance and adventure. played in the landscape he has made so irresistible.

Simon Shaw, a forty-two-year-old advertising tycoon, worn down by insatiable clients and a rapacious ex-wife, wants to get away from it all. On impulse he drives to the south of France. When an accident leaves him stranded in a small village in the Luberon, an enchanting Frenchwoman, who is between husbands, comes to his rescue and soon lures him into buying the local gendarmerie. Together they transform it into a little jewel of a hotel. And life seems idyllic.

But at the same time, a crook, recently released from the Marseilles prison, is plotting to rob the bank in the nearby town. Paths cross. schemes go awry -- and through it all Peter Mayle delights us with the intrigues of the haut monde that descends on the Hotel Pastis and the machinations of the bad guys, as everything conspires to threaten the heaven on earth that Simon Shaw has envisioned.

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