Summary, from back cover:
In Acquired Tastes, Peter Mayle, the erudite sojourner and New York Times bestselling author of A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, sets off once more, traveling the world in search of the very best life has to offer. Whether telling us where to buy the world’s best caviar or how to order a pair of thirteen-hundred-dollar custom-made shoes, advising us on the high cost of keeping a mistress in style or the pros and cons of household servants, he covers everything the well-heeled – and those vicariously so inclined- need to know to enjoy the good life.
From gastronomy to matrimony, from the sartorial or baronial, Acquired Tastes is Peter Mayle’s most delicious book yet- an irreverently spiced smorgasboard of rich dishes you’re sure to enjoy.
When the Chicago Sun-Times only says a book is “Intriguing.” in the endorsement of a book, you know it’s going to be a flop. I was very disappointed in this book, especially after being an ardent fan of A Year in Provence. This book felt empty in comparison. Yes- the articles were funny, but they felt too lordly for me. Possibly this is my own personal feelings for the wealthy, but the knowledge that Mayle had actually lived this life made this book rather distasteful. I would have much rather read a book by a “poor” man experiencing these things for the first time rather than a man who had actually lived the life.
Obviously, this is not the cream of the crop concerning Mayle’s work. He has the ability to write delightful gastronomic adventure stories- pick up any of his Provincial books and you’ll find yourself lunching in the French countryside. This book fell short of that standard. Obviously, these articles were intended for being in a magazine, as they are written perfectly for a short column, but as a book, they don’t work together. His sense of humor changes from here to there, and occasionally he waxes on a little more than he should have, while in other cases (especially concerning the caviar) I would have appreciated more context.
Alas, not every book is perfect. While I have written some “I’m disappointed” reviews lately, this was a quick read, well-suited for a summer afternoon without many cares in the world. A great book for when I want to read without paying much attention to it, like I have been with Tess of the D’Urbervilles. This book is definitely that can be tossed aside for whenever a better book comes along, and provide a brief interlude when another book becomes too heavy.