This prequel to the New York Times bestseller The Elegance of the Hedgehog tells the story of another occupant of the posh apartment building in Paris: the great food critic Pierre Arthens. As his life draws to a close, he reflects back on its many flavors, and on a singular sublime something, once sampled and never forgotten.
A fine example of a well written book…. but not necessarily the book for me.
I have found myself drawn to books about food lately. I have dabbled a bit with food critics (Garlic and Sapphire), and a little with food magicians (Cake Boss ) as well as books with delicious recipes in them that makes even a non baker (the villagers have voted and the answer was “no”) like myself wants to don an apron and a wooden spoon and try my hand at some of the mouth-watering treasures….
Total run on (or run away) sentence.
My point being…. that while in Honduras I was browsing through the one book store opportunity I had and was refusing to leave without having made a bookish purchase.
After much pacing and admiring of some of favorite titles in Spanish, I walked out of the store having spent 385 Limperas on this book. (About 20 Limperas to the dollar so I paid a little over $18 for this book. )
While I found the writing richly worded in a style that I savored… I found that I tended to drift and skim pages as I found the main character, the Maitre’, more and more unlikable. He was not very found of his wife and admitted to not liking his children. While on his death-bed he scoffs at his wife’s loyalty and sadness and even states that he will not miss her. In fact I believe the only thing this sniveling of a man (and I use the term loosely) seemed to appreciate was his palate for food.
(At this point, I remind myself there was two reasons I wanted to read this book: 1) I had heard good things about this author with ‘The Elegance Of The Hedgehog’ which I have yet to read, and 2) it’s a foodie book… and I found I am interested in this topic.
So… I read on…
And to please the foodie in me, I can say I did enjoy the mouth watering pictures that came to mind as Muriel Barbery describes the freshness of a chunky orange sorbet, grilled sardines, and Greek loukamades (hot donuts trickled with honey).
While I puzzled my way through the different narrators that lend a voice to this book I still marveled at the descriptive writing, even if I did occasionally get lost in the words. Overall, I appreciated the writing but found the storyline hard to follow. I enjoyed reading about the food, yet found myself skimming the pages for more foodish topics….
bottom line, it just did not hold my attention.
I do still look forward to Muriel Barbery’s ‘Elegance Of The Hedgehog’ and am curious now how it will compare to this read.
Purchased in Tegucigalpa Honduras