HOTEL PASTIS by Peter Mayle


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 Consumer glories rendered by a master (the velvety Acquired Tastes, 1992) in a richly amusing first novel set in London and Provence, even more stylish than Mayle's travel hits (Toujours Provence, 1991, etc.). The productive Mayle also has a new nonfiction work this season (Up the Agency, p. 38), which pours lime on his 13 years as a junior copywriter and then creative director in the Madison Avenue ad arena. That background feeds into his novel--the story of cultivated advertising colossus Simon Shaw, now 42, tired of the ad game, divorced by his ``neglected'' wife (his former secretary), who has gone high society with a mania for fancy decoration. Taking his first vacation in over two years, Simon solos into sleepy Brassiäre-les-Deux-Eglis, where his injured Porsche must remain while parts are shipped in. Simon deliquesces in Paradise, or melts into sappy goo, under the tanned cleavage of Nicole Bouvier, a homeowner pinched by thin alimony payments. A London meet with the Rubber Barons, a condom company offering a $30 million-dollar account, and a visit to Nicole convince him that he's burnt out at advertising and would much rather refurbish the abandoned gendarmerie in Brassiäre and turn it into a first-class hotel, with the aid of his tartly well-spoken major-domo Ernest--and Nicole! Meanwhile, Hotel Pastis meets Big Deal on Madonna Street as a band of thieves dryly plan and carry out the July 14th holiday robbery of the most picturesque little bank in Provence, an event that becomes the unwanted kidnapping of a multibillionaire's son. A cedar box of Havana Churchills, a pint of white diamonds-- the gift novel par excellence, its smart dialogue at full glitter throughout. (First printing of 100,000 is just frog jelly before the tads pop.)

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40229-2
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993


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