Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle

This was the first Peter Mayle book I ever read, and I had no idea that he was a travel writer so I was in a totally different frame of mind when I read it, expecting an art heist thriller. But like all Mayle’s books, Chasing Cezanne is more like a travel book than anything else. It also reads like chick lit, which is kind of weird, because the protagonist is male.
The premise was really good: photographer Andre Kelly is off on a shoot when he sees a Cezanne being removed from the premises of a former client. He photographs this event and is embroiled in a chase for the missing painting.

Except that it’s got to be the most leisurely chase I’ve ever read — Andre and his gang (a fastidious art dealer, plus Andre’s love interest Lucy) stop to eat and sightsee (and sleep together) every chance they get, hehe.

The language is languid and dreamy, the descriptions are beautiful and picturesque. No rip-roaring chases here — the book is more like Under the Tuscan Sun than Da Vinci Code.

Even Cezanne is only incidental, you can substitute some other painter’s name in the title and the story wouldn’t change, that’s how little Cezanne. And there’s very little actual art discussed, other than the process of selling famous paintings and a bit of forgery (haha, Incognito was a great movie for that!). Actually I think even the mystery is only incidental, it was just a reason for Andre to get together with Lucy and romp from New York to Paris and the South of France.

Worth reading for the travelogue and food commentary — this is what Mayle does best, and he delivers commendably, but mystery lovers might feel shortchanged.

My copy: trade paperback upgraded into a hardcover with dust jacket

My rating: 3/5 stars

Photo courtesy of Amazon (

From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

This is a book that I remember seeing a lot when I was in Grade School at the LRC, but I don’t know why I never got around to reading it. Maybe it’s because of the long title, haha, or maybe it’s because the cover isn’t appealing to kids.

Most people have probably had dreams of running away (if they didn’t actually run away) as they were growing up. Haha, I remember I used to plan my escape when my siblings ganged up on me, or when I got scolded (except I couldn’t stand the thought of roaming around on the streets in rags, with matching gunky hair and kariton). I think this is why I liked this book so much, because it’s a story about two kids who run away and actually succeed at it.

The book has a Home Alone quality to it, except that they’re at a museum and there are no bad guys, but they do have a mystery to solve.

I loved that of all places that Claudia and Jamie could run away to, it was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art… Now if only we had a museum like that, maybe I’d have run away a long time ago. Haha, Jamie reminded me a lot like my brother, because he was the money shark and like Claudia, I used to be the brains that thought up ways of getting us into trouble when we were kids (uh, like the brilliant idea to polish the parquet with baby powder! boy, did we get punished for that!).

The characters are endearing, and I love that the book shows how smart kids can be, in a way adults would never expect.

There’s an old movie version (1973), with Ingrid Bergman as Mrs. Frankweiler, and a 1995 TV movie with Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Frankweiler. I wonder if I’ll ever get to watch those; I think the book makes for a really fun movie.

My copy: mass market paperback, wanting to be upgraded haha

My rating: 4/5 stars