Reviews of the Book
Hotel Bel-Air Magazine Volume VIII. No.2 2000
"A thoroughly enjoyable look at life in a small French village as experienced
by a California couple. Through a collection of 20 vignettes, the reader is
transported to a lovely hilltop village to meet its inhabitants and their
Jane Davis, The Decatur Daily
Book Reviews-Online edition
June 25, 2000
"This is an enchanting book, with tales of the duchess on the hilltop, the
prince who came to call, the housekeeper who didnāt clean, and the hollyhocks
that bloom throughout the village. Each chapter concludes with a delectable
recipe so the reader can share part of the experience of life in Provence.
I empathized with Yvone when diesel fuel froze and rejoiced when the dollar
doubled its value against the franc and she was able to procure firewood.
She writes well and I took a mini-vacation while reading this book.
So, if you havenāt the means to fly to southern France, do pick up this
volume and read and cook and imagine..."
"An American...buys, on impulse, an ancient, broken-down house in the mountainous
Luberon. But the house restoration is of little significance here. Lenard wants
to tell the stories of people she encounters. She crafts narrative skillfully and
her recounting of a disastrous Aida performed in a monumental Roman ruin is
hilarious. She concludes most chapters with simple recipes, including kir,
vegetable tarts, creme brulee and Baked Alaska."
Publisher's Weekly, 2/14/00
"...(an) enchanting collection of essays in which
Lenard tells of a vacation home in a fairy-tale
town. For the most part, life in the village is delightful, and Lenard describes it with wit
and affection. Adding to the book's appeal, tempting Provençal recipes end each chapter."
A joyous, albeit occasionally tart, tribute to the myriad pleasures of living
in a hilltop village in Provence.
Lenard, chairman of the foreign-language department at California State
University, Dominguez Hills, and her photographer husband purchased a ruined
house in Luberon, in the heart of Provence, had it restored, and now divide
their time between their Los Angeles and Luberon homes. If at first glance
Lenard's account seems like a reprise of Frances Mayes's bestselling Under
the Tuscan Sun (in which a California academic and her husband buy and
restore an old house and gardens in Tuscany), the resemblance is less than
initially meets the eye. Lenard focuses not on the restoration of the house,
which is swiftly and efficiently accomplished in her absence, but on people,
local lore, entertaining, and food and drink. The aristocratic residents of
the chateau that looms above Lenard's house, with its aged duchess, handsome
prince, and beautiful princess, are favorite subjects for the author's tales,
as are memorable meals, eaten out or prepared at home. Her range is broad: a
caustic account of a trip to overtouristed St.Tropez, a wickedly funny story
of perfect revenge against an insulting and dishonest housekeeper, ghost
stories, adventures with unwanted guests, a reverse rustling operation in
which she and her husband dispose of two unwanted chickens late at night, and
lunch in a three-star restaurant accompanied by their pet rabbit and dog. At
the end of each chapter are several tempting recipes, usually for dishes
mentioned in the chapter, along with wine recommendations. Any attempt to
make the villagers quaintly rustic is refreshingly absent, for Lenard, a
native of France who came to the US as a young adult, clearly respects and
understands the people, the place, and the language. Actually, her respect,
which verges on awe, for the duchess whose chateau dominates the village may
seem a trifle overdone to democratic American readers.
All in all, a delightful, witty, and entertaining celebration of Provence.
LIBRARY JOURNAL - French-born academic Lenard (California State University, Dominguez Hills),
who has written several textbooks on French language and culture, here
presents an idyllic account of life in a hilltop village of Provence, where
she turned a restored ruin into her second home 25 years ago. The essays
cover a whole range of topics: the castle, with its good-looking and gracious
aristocrats; St.Tropez; Provencal food and wine; buying a house; and Lenardās
involvement in village life. She also describes the rigors of winter, the
Mistral, and xenophobic domestic help and appropriately ends each chapter
with a traditional recipe. These sympathetic sketches of village life are
cut from the same cloth as Peter Mayle's Toujours Provence (LJ 5/1/91) and
Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun (LJ 9/1/96) and will find the same
Recommended for public libraries. Ravi Shenay, North Central College
Library, Napersville, IL.
Peter Baldwin, multi award-winning television writer and director
"Reading each fascinating tale, I kept thinking,'Why can't these charming, warm
adventures ever happen to me?' - and then, just before the end, voila! she pops out a
couple of recipes letting me join her in the magic. Thanks, Yvone, for each delicious
mouthful. You're the best!"
Roger Cossack Host of CNN's "Burden of Proof"
"If you want to taste the wine, smell the lavender and walk the country
roads of Provence in the moonlight with someone you love by your side, this is the book for you."
Lucien Clergue, Author of My Friend Picasso
"The Provence of Yvone Lenard has a distinction, an elegance, a sense of humor and a
fragrance! Her book brought tears to my eyes and made me proud of the country where I
was born, more beautiful even, as seen through the eyes of this born writer."
Dominique Lapierre, Author of Is Paris Burning
"THE MAGIC OF PROVENCE is a wonderful book. A delightful mixture of living,
eating, drinking and socializing in one of the world's most unique regions. Lively, witty
and often touching reading. Bravo, Yvone Lenard! A Provençal says 'Merci!' to you."
Raoul Aglion, Author of Roosevelt and De Gaulle
"This delightful and beautifully written book could be entitled Joie de Vivre in Provence.
With great talent Yvone Lenard writes of the magic to be found in that sunny part of
France. Each of the twenty stories is followed by an exquisite menu of regional foods and
wines that will enchant and inspire you to share in the spirit and joy of Provence."
The publisher, Princeton Book Company, Publishers , November 18, 1999
Yvone Lenard's look at her beloved Provence is light-hearted, fun, loving, and sensuous -
celebrating its relaxed lifestyle and the abundant pleasures of its kitchens and vineyards.
Her purchase of an ancient ruin of a house in a hilltop village twenty-five years ago opened
up an enchanted world, which she describes with verve, wit, and sympathy - and, as a
native speaker of French, with unusual depth of understanding. Provence casts its spell on
the very first morning in her charmingly restored residence when a prince bearing a jug of
village-produced vin rose shows up in her kitchen. The visit provides an entree into the
household of the local chateau where both she and her husband encounter flirtatious
advances along with dinner. The duchess who heads the family eventually becomes a
close confidante when they share a memorable time during a bitter cold snap, drinking
tea laced with rum and making soup over the embers in Lenard's fireplace. Lenard and her
husband have adventures at being chicken rustlers, dispatching graveyard ghosts, and
traveling to Saint-Tropez where, "breasts are everywhere." Terry, a friend from
Connecticut, locates another village ruin with the help of a spirit at a seance in Lenard's
basement, restores it to perfection, establishes a profitable bed-and-breakfast and
guided tour business for antique hunters. Lillian, an unhappy Los Angeles widow to
whom Lenard lends her house for a desultory visit, finds a vibrant new life in the village.
Others drawn to the region, whose stories are told are Vincent Van Gogh, Brigitte Bardot,
and Princess Caroline of Monaco.
The "magic" extends to recipes for food and drinks, along with hints for entertaining in the
Provençal style, temptingly placed at the ends of chapters. Like Alice you might eat a little
of this and drink a little of that and be transported to the wonderland that is the South of
France Today, March/April 2000
"When Yvone Lenard returned to her native France, after years in California, and
purchased a home in a hilltop village of Provence, she had little idea of what was
in store for her. In The Magic of Provence she shares her account of the spell of
Provence with its enchanting world of food, wines and unusual adventures. Lenard
invites the reader to re-create the magic of the region by taking advantage of her
recipes for food and drinks, as well as tips for entertaining in the Provençal