Peter Mayle’s delicious new fictional confection is set, bien entendu, in Provence, where a suave if slightly threadbare English expat named Bennett is reaching the end of his credit. In desperation he places an ad in The International Herald Tribune: “Unattached Englishman … seeks interesting and unusual work. Anything considered except marriage.”
In no time at all Bennett is being paid handsomely to impersonate the mysterious and very wealthy Julian Poe. This entails occupying Poe’s palatial flat in Monte Carlo, whizzing around in his Mercedes, and charging meals at the Côte d’Azur’s better restaurants. Unfortunately, there are certain complications … involving Sicilian and Corsican Mafiosi, the loveliest woman ever to drive a tank, and a formula for domesticating the notoriously unpredictable black truffle. As orchestrated by Mayle, these elements make Anything Considered a novel of nail-biting suspense and champagne-dry wit, whose evocations of the good life are so convincing that you’ll come away with a suntan.
About Anything Considered
Bennett is an English expatriate living in France with a champagne taste and a beer bankroll. Happy-go-lucky and a bit roguish, he places an ad in the International Herald Tribune offering his services — any services. He pursues a response from a wealthy Englishman named Julian Poe who has developed a means of producing truffles and is close to cornering the immensely lucrative truffle market. Bennett signs on and finds himself in Monaco, where he is able to live in a style to which he has always wished to become accustomed (including eating to his heart’s content — a Mayle trademark!). Soon the Sicilian and Corsican Mafiosi intrude and Bennett is joined by the beautiful and experienced (in all ways) Anna. Ham-fisted goons, gendarmes working at cross purposes, French village busybodies, and an order of monks dedicated to the god Bacchus all play a role in the surprising, and more than a little satisfying, denouement.