The Vintage Caper

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The Vintage Caper

by Peter Mayle

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | July 13, 2010 | Trade Paperback

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From Hollywood to Marseille with delicious stops in between, Peter Mayle's latest novel is filled with the culinary delights and entertaining characters that make him our treasured chronicler of French food and life.
 
The story begins high above Los Angeles at the impressive wine cellar of lawyer Danny Roth. Unfortunately, after inviting the Los Angeles Times to write an extensive profile extolling the liquid treasures of his collection, Roth finds himself the victim of a world-class wine heist. Enter Sam Levitt, former lawyer and wine connoisseur, who follows leads to Bordeaux and Provence. The unraveling of the ingenious crime is threaded through with Mayle's seductive rendering of France's sensory delights-even the most sophisticated of oenophiles will learn a thing or two from this vintage work by a beloved author.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 240 pages, 3.14 × 2.02 × 0.27 in

Published: July 13, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307389197

ISBN - 13: 9780307389190

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– More About This Product –

The Vintage Caper

by Peter Mayle

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 240 pages, 3.14 × 2.02 × 0.27 in

Published: July 13, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307389197

ISBN - 13: 9780307389190

Read from the Book

One Danny Roth took a final dab of moisturizer and massaged it into his already gleaming cranium, while checking to make sure that his scalp was innocent of any trace of stubble. Some time ago, when skin had first begun to take over from hair, he had toyed with the possibilities of a ponytail, often the first refuge of the balding man. But his wife Michelle had been less than enthusiastic. "Just remember, Danny," she had said, "underneath every ponytail is a horse''s ass." That had persuaded him to embrace the billiard-ball look, and he had since been gratified to find himself in the company of several stars, their bodyguards, and assorted hangers-on. Peering into the mirror, he studied the lobe of his left ear. He was still of two minds about an earring: a dollar sign in gold, perhaps, or a platinum shark''s tooth. Either would be appropriate for his profession, but were they rugged enough? Tough decision. It would have to wait. Stepping away from the mirror, he padded into his dressing room to choose his outfit for the day, something that would take him through a morning of client meetings, lunch at the Ivy, and a private screening in the evening. Something conservative (he was, after all, a lawyer) but with a devil-may-care touch of informality—he was, after all, an entertainment lawyer. A few minutes later, dressed in a dark-gray suit of superfine worsted, a white open-neck silk shirt, Gucci loafers, and socks of buttercup yellow, he picked up his BlackBerry from th
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From the Publisher

From Hollywood to Marseille with delicious stops in between, Peter Mayle's latest novel is filled with the culinary delights and entertaining characters that make him our treasured chronicler of French food and life.
 
The story begins high above Los Angeles at the impressive wine cellar of lawyer Danny Roth. Unfortunately, after inviting the Los Angeles Times to write an extensive profile extolling the liquid treasures of his collection, Roth finds himself the victim of a world-class wine heist. Enter Sam Levitt, former lawyer and wine connoisseur, who follows leads to Bordeaux and Provence. The unraveling of the ingenious crime is threaded through with Mayle's seductive rendering of France's sensory delights-even the most sophisticated of oenophiles will learn a thing or two from this vintage work by a beloved author.

About the Author

Peter Mayle is the author of eleven previous books, five of them fiction. He has received the Légion d'Honneur from the French government for his cultural contributions. Mayle has been living in Provence with his wife, Jennie, for twenty years.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Peter Mayle and The Vintage Caper :   “Wine and food aficionados will find much to savor. . . . Light, funny, and packed with a menu’s worth of scrumptious descriptions of exceptional dinners and drinks.” — USA Today   “A succession of excellent repasts and leisurely ambles, which Mayle depicts with painterly ease and signature savoir vivre. . . . Pure Provence.” — National Geographic Traveler   “A lighthearted romp . . . in which picking the right restaurant, choosing the best dish on the menu and, of course, finding the perfect wine (and female companion) to accompany the feast is every bit as important as catching the thief.” — Los Angeles Times   “A smooth ride you’ll enjoy from beginning to end. . . . Peter Mayle’s love of France is infectious. . . . The vintages are a fine complement to the action.” — The Washington Post   “Cinematic. . . . Meals are lovingly described, scenery comes to life, paragraphs take long floral detours. And everyone is blessed with hypersensitive taste buds. . . . By the time Levitt returns to America, readers will have learned much about the history of winemaking, the key wine regions, various auction houses, critics and books—and even how to lift fingerprints from bottles.” — The New York Times Book Review    “Provides a delightful behind-the-scenes tour of France and its wines,
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Bookclub Guide

US

1. How does Mayle use humor, exaggeration, and physical descriptions to define Danny Roth's personality? To what extent is Roth a caricature of an arrogant, egotistical businessman? Does he have any redeeming characteristics-i.e. qualities that humanize him or with which you can identify?

2. Compare Mayle's description of Hollywood [p. 15, p. 33] to impressions you have formed from in other books, films, television programs, or through your own experience.   What particular references or images help to create a telling, recognizable snapshot? How would you characterize Mayle's portrayal of the city and its inhabitants? Does he find charm and appeal behind the glitz and trendiness?

3. The Vintage Caper presents a host of insider information, historical tidbits, and sightseeing suggestions for visitors to Paris, and, especially, Marseille.  Do Levitt's meanderings in Paris present new ways of looking at the city and all it has to offer? The detective's expectations are based on the film The French Connection and "one or two breathless articles by travel writers" and Sophie, who visited the city once, remembers it as " a scruffy, crowded labyrinth, teeming with raucous, often rather sinister-looking men and women" [p. 92-3]. Do media representations and personal biases often distort the expectations of travelers and tourists?  What do the taxi driver [p. 93], Phillipe, and Reboul reveal about the factors that influence how locals regard the city? Discuss how Mayle brings to life the charms of the city, as well as showing Marseille's louche side.

4. Phillipe and Florian Vial play crucial roles in the plan to recover the wine. How does Mayle create a sense of these secondary characters as individuals with their own quirks, vanities, and motivations?

5. What is the significance of Levitt's relationship with Elena Morales? Does it add to your understanding of the kind of man he is?  Were you interested in learning more about their past-and about the romantic possibilities that might lie in the future?

6. Compare and contrast Danny Roth and Francis Reboul.  What are their similarities? To what extent do they represent the conduct and mind-set of real-life wealthy and prominent men?  What character traits make Reboul an attractive and appealing figure?

7. Levitt's passion for food and wine is an essential part of his character. What effects do the frequent descriptions of his meals and the restaurants in which he eats have on the reader? Do they distract from the main story or are they integral to the atmosphere and flow of the novel?

8. In what ways is The Vintage Caper a commentary on the differences between Americans and the French?  Consider the description of Levitt's flight to Bordeaux [p. 65]; his reactions to Sophie [p. 66, p. 71]; the background material he reads about Reboul  [p. 129-30]; and his observations on the clothing and mannerisms of people he encounters even briefly. Does Mayle apply the same moral and aesthetic standards in describing the behavior and attitudes of each nationality? What cultural stereotypes does he draw? Why are they effective within the scheme of the novel?

9. Mayle has written several bestselling memoirs about his life in Provence, as well as popular guides to the region. How do Mayle's skills and interests as a nonfiction writer influence the style of The Vintage Caper?

10. In what ways is The Vintage Caper both an homage to and a satire of the hardboiled detective novels by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler? Discuss the scenes, dialogue, and comments (particularly about women) that reflect this classic tradition.

11. How does The Vintage Caper compare to books and movies like To Catch a Thief, the Pink Panther series, and Ocean's Eleven that feature clever capers, heists or cons? What characteristics does Levitt share with the heroes (or lead characters) in the genre?  Is there a good balance of suspense, risk, and comic elements? Is the climax satisfying?


(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

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