Jack in your job and go and live the dream – if you can afford it

Barbara Ellen
Peter Mayle in Provence, where he wrote several books about the Britons living in the region. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Peter Mayle, the writer of 1989’s multimillion-selling A Year in Provence, has died aged 78. Although he wrote other books, this one encapsulated the wish fulfilment of the middle-aged, middle-class dreamer – the hope that they could get another chance at life.

It’s not just about relocating to Provence, Tuscany or wherever. There are other variations on this dream, such as, perhaps, jacking in your job and starting a kitchen table business or opening a restaurant.

It’s not so much about people hating their lives, rather, it’s the feeling that they could get even more out of them.

It’s not a criticism, more of an observation, to say that, all these years on, these lifestyle “second winds” remain generally a middle-class phenomenon.

You don’t tend to get working-class people throwing in jobs on whims. Which is mainly down to economics. (You have to be able to afford these fresh starts in Provence.) But there’s also a degree of entitlement involved.

Mayle came to exemplify a particular form of middle-class, middle-aged regenesis: the idea that a last throw of the dice – a late, great adventure – was possible. Even advisable.

It’s just a shame that so many others could never afford to do it or even to dream about it.