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He knows a little place

Douglas Johnson, 13 February 1992

Expensive Habits 
by Peter Mayle.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 191 pp., £14.95, October 1991, 1 85619 055 2
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... flame) has been observed as frequently as legend suggests, and it is not clear whether or not Peter Mayle himself witnessed the burning of the ten-pound note that had masqueraded as a tip (although he claims that the perpetrator of the deed is a friend). But why then does this legend persist? Presumably because, for some, the idea of wealth, power ...


James Francken: Ian Sansom, 20 May 2004

Ring Road: There’s No Place like Home 
by Ian Sansom.
Fourth Estate, 388 pp., £12.99, April 2004, 0 00 715653 7
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... of refuge and fantasy’. It is one of those destinations – ‘like the South of France before Peter Mayle, and Tuscany before champagne socialists’ – which, it is assumed, is ‘unspoilt by the American coffee shops and the malls and the ring roads that have ruined Arnoldian England’. But as Sansom discovers, the Ireland of middle-class English ...

Fed up with Ibiza

Jenny Turner: Sybille Bedford, 1 April 2021

Sybille Bedford: An Appetite for Life 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 432 pp., £35, November 2020, 978 1 78474 113 6
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... vineyards, light’, Bedford’s Provence is an expat fantasy every bit as heedless as that of Peter Mayle, but her cosmopolitan sophistication, the pressures of her entre-deux-guerres historical moment and the terrible events of which she sometimes wrote, help to tease the fantasy apart: the ‘illusion of freedom’, as she sometimes called it ...

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