Jamie Ivey did what many midlife careerists dream of. The London lawyer and his wife chucked their old lives and moved to the south of France, where they built a new life selling wine and settling into a town in Provence. There he learns about the mysterious truffle market and the even more mysterious ways of building a new home in an area bound by many unwritten rules.
Ivey’s account of the travails of buying land and dealing with contractors bears a strong resemblance to the work of another British ex-pat in the south of France, Peter Mayle (“A Year in Provence,” etc.). In a writing contest, Mayle wins. But Ivey’s story comes into its own when he buys a truffle-hunting dog and sets out to hunt the aromatic treasure. First, though, he discovers that he must solve yet another puzzle of his new life in Provence: how to get a truffle-hunting dog to like truffles.
This book is a satisfying summer read, letting readers live Ivey’s expatriate experience from a safe distance. We see that it may not be as easy as we’d hope to find a community of friends in a new land, but that perseverance and good humor can help some dreams come true.