Peter Mayle's latest irresistible tale is sure to tantalize the legions of Francophiles and armchair travelers who have flocked to his earlier best-selling books. A Good Year is vintage Mayle, transporting us to sun-drenched Provence through its sensual rendering of the region's sights, sounds and especially flavors.

Max Skinner is a down-on-his-luck Englishman who inherits an aging chateau and vineyard from his uncle. He takes up residency in France hoping to seek his fortunes in wine, but his visions of Euro signs are quickly dashed when he discovers the vineyard's wine is so bad it's nearly undrinkable. Matters become further complicated by the unexpected arrival of a beautiful American heir, the daughter his uncle never knew he had. When the two seek the advice of a wine expert, the property's doting and affable caretaker, Roussel, makes a startling revelation: he'd been cultivating a special parcel of land and selling its top-quality wine under the table. More plot twists and turns abound as the trio discovers a scam far more lucrative and devious than they could have ever imagined.

Brimming with colorful, eccentric characters, A Good Year offers both a behind-the-scenes peek at the high-stakes wine business and a voyeuristic portrait of Provenc¬ćal village life. Richly evocative of the pleasures of both place and palate, Mayle's latest is sure to entertain and delight his many devotees.

Joni Rendon writes from Hoboken, New Jersey.

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