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Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in southern France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture—the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M. F. K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. 

In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Provence, 1970 is as much a meditation on the nature of transition and the role of friendship, as it is on the power of food to unite, divide, and ultimately nourish the soul.”

    Andrew McCarthy, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Luke Barr has brought the icons of the food world vibrantly to life and captured the moment when their passion for what's on the plate sparked a cultural breakthrough. His graceful prose provides a thorough, affecting account of their talents and reveals how their disparate personalities defined the very essence of French cuisine.”

    Bob Spitz, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Brilliant conversation, dimmed lights, culinary intrigue, urchin mousse, a glass of Sauternes…Luke Barr has written one of the most delicious and sensuous books of all time. It brims with love of food and wine.”

    Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Luke Barr has written a lovely, shimmering, immersive secret history of an important moment that nobody knew was important at the time.”

    Kurt Andersen, New York Times bestselling author

  • “If it hadn’t happened, a screen writer might have conjured up the scenario: Provence, 1970. Five luminaries of American cuisine share one month of company, cooking, meals, and conversations in the south of France. Only later will it become fully apparent that this convergence of M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, Richard Olney, and Simone Beck will affect each and, in turn, irrevocably reshape our national food culture. In this exciting act of recapture, Luke Barr uses his grandaunt M. F. K. Fisher’s journals and letters and other documentation to invite us to feasts with this superlative crew. Editor’s recommendation.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “[Luke Barr] assembles a fascinating narrative.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Barr finds delightful fodder for foodies.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Narrator John Rubinstein celebrates this ‘epiphany of taste’ with his cogent and insightful performance…Rubinstein’s expressive descriptions of food and France are enchanting.”


  • “Luke Barr has inherited the clear and inimitable voice of his great-aunt M. F. K. Fisher, and deftly portrays a crucial turning point in the history of food in America with humor, intimacy, and deep perception. This book is beautifully written and totally fascinating to me, because these were my mentors—they inspired a generation of cooks in this country.”

    Alice Waters, American chef, restaurateur, activist, and author

  • “Both a meditation on the power of friendship and the uses of nostalgia, Provence, 1970 is the kind of book you want to linger with as long as possible.”

    Daphne Merkin, author of Enchantment

  • Selected for the November 2013 Indie Next List
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for October 2013
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About the Author

Luke Barr is an editor at Travel + Leisure magazine. A great-nephew of M. F. K. Fisher, he was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Switzerland, and graduated from Harvard. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two daughters.