(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAY 6, 1999)
Chasing CÚzanne is a lighthearted, quick read novel that takes us from New York City, Bahamas, England, Paris and the south of France. Professional photographer Andre Kelly has just completed an assignment in the south of France. Rather than heading straight back to wintry NYC, he decides to drop in on some people he met on another assignment. He soon realizes that no one is home, but then notices that the Denoyer's handy man "Old Claude" is helping to load a CÚzanne in a plumber's truck. Something about the whole thing seems a little strange, so he takes a few pictures and heads back to New York City puzzling over what he should do.
There are two things going on this book. One is the story about greed in the art world. This is where the action is, as Kelly makes contacts in attempt to figure out what has happened to the CÚzanne. Based on my knowledge of this subject -- that is, I saw the 1998 movie Incognito starring Jason Patric, which is about another art forgery scheme -- I found the plot credible. Again, this is lighthearted, don't expect a lot of technical detail.
And they do stop to eat quite often. That's the other thing going on in this book -- the highest quality dining ever to appear in any novel that I've read. I was reminded of my Parisian business trips with the three hour lunches and lots of wine before each customer presentation. (I didn't speak French so they didn't notice the slurring...) Since we are getting ready to move to a warmer climate anyway, I actually started thinking that we should just go to the south of France. Really, the cheese alone would be worth it!
I debated as to which section to stick this book in. It's not a mystery. Although it reads like a cozy, there's no dead body. It's zany and witty and has some funny scenes, but not so much that I'd stick in the Laugh Out Loud section. The tone through me off, but I realized that this has many of the characteristics of books in the international thriller section. There are bad guys and the likable not so bad guys (when it comes to greed, no one is perfect). There's something being stolen and there is the chase. And I think they could make it into a movie - Babette's Feast worked, didn't it?
- Amazon reader rating: from 45 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Hotel Pastis (1993)
- A Dog's Life (1995)
- Anything Considered (1996)
- Chasing Cézanne (1997)
- A Good Year (June 2004)
- The Vintage Caper (October 2009)
- A Year in Provence (1989)
- Toujours Provence (1991)
- Acquired Tastes (1992)
- Up the Agency
- Encore Provence (1999)
- French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew (May 2001)
- Where Did I Come From: The Facts of Life Without Any Nonsense and with with Illustrations (1973)
- Where Did I Come From (African-American Edition)
- What's Happening to Me?: The Answers to Some of the World's Most Embarrassing Questions (1975)
- Will I Like It? Your First Sexual Experience; What to Expect, What to Avoid and How Both of You Can Get the Most Out Of It (1977)
- How to Be a Pregnant Father: An Illustrated Survival Guide for the First-Time Father (1977)
- Baby Taming (1978)
- Divorce Can Happen to the Nicest People (1979)
- Congratulations! You're Not Pregnant: an Illustrated Guide to Birth Control (1981)
- Grown-Ups and Other Problems: Help for Small People in a Big World (1982)
- The Honeymoon Book (1983)
- Sweet Dreams and Monsters (1986)
- Why Are We Getting a Divorce (1988)
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- Wikipedia page on Peter Mayle
- Vintage books reading guide for Encore Provence
- An interview with Peter Mayle with comments on Chasing Cézanne
- An audio interview with some comments on Chasing Cézanne
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About the Author:
Peter Mayle grew up in England. He was an executive in an advertising firm agency for many years before he started his career in writing. In the mid-seventies, after 15 years, he gave up the fast pace of Manhattan and moved with his wife, Jenny, to Provence, in the south of France. He's credited with 'discovering Provence', the way Christopher Columbus discovered America. From what I understand his first book, A Year in Provence, was so successful, he actually had to leave to escape the tourism. He now divides his time between the south of France and Long Island.