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French novelist Barbery's sensuous first novel, being released here after the phenomenal success of her second novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, encompasses a series of witty reflections on the life and career of famous, unlovable French food critic Pierre Arthens, as he lies on his death bed desperate to recapture a forgotten flavor. Lapsing through chapters into nostalgic memories of early, formative tastes, women and pets, Arthens reveals himself as a man driven by gastronomic ecstasies, from his childhood impressions of eating grilled meat in Tangiers to summers gorging on fresh fish in Brittany. Alternating with these splendid remembrances are decidedly more salty commentary by his resentful children (Die in your silk sheets, in your pasha's bed, in your bourgeois cage, die, die, die); long-suffering wife, Anna; the exultant tramp outside his Paris apartment building whom he ignored for 10 years; even his faithful cat, Rick (named for the character in the film Casablanca). Barbery's debut, occasionally rough-edged and uneven in structure, showcases her lush and satisfying prose and sets the stage for what has come. (Sept.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --From Publishers Weekly
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: Proust's infamous madeleine cannot hold a candle to the lush, winsome memories of meals past that you'll find in Muriel Barbery's Gourmet Rhapsody. M. Pierre Arthens is France's premier restaurant critic so premier in fact that he's simply called the Maître and we meet him as he lies in bed, waiting to die. Fervently he mines years of gastronomic delights and discoveries in search of one single flavor, one that he says is 'the only true thing ever accomplished.' What unfolds in vignettes narrated by him and by a chorus of his familiars (most human, some quite comically not) is a portrait of a man in thrall to the very ingredient that makes French cuisine so inescapably, ecstatically, seductive: It's not cream, nor cognac, but the cook who defines those glorious tastes. 'The only true work of art, in the end,' he says,' is another person's feast.' --Amazon.com Review - Anne Bartholomew
In the pages of this book, Barbery shows off her finest gift: lightness. --La Repubblica
Muriel Barbery teaches philosophy. The Elegance of the Hedgehog is her second novel. The Gourmet, her first novel, features some of the characters from Hedgehog.
Pierre Arthens is dying, there's nothing that can be done for him anymore. He was a famous food critic and people loved his work, but they also feared him. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Suze @ Suze Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
Very engaging and well written. Nice to see the first appearance of the 'hedgehog' of her later bookPublished 7 months ago by Jan
Titled Une Gourmandise in French, this is the novel that precedes the more well known The Elegance of the Hedgehog but it is this short introduction, again to Rue Grenelle that... Read morePublished 14 months ago by thebooktrailer
Bought this as in VGC - certainly true - and gave to a friend as she has never read it before. I bought her "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" for a birthday gift (having read... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Caro on the couch
This is an extremely well written book that for me should well have been a short story. It is about a horrible man on his deathbed looking for that elusive "perfect" food, a lot of... Read morePublished on 23 April 2013 by Jack Russell
I read theElegance of A Hedgehog first, so this book could not match it. But nevertheless, it is beautifully and cleverly written,in a bite-size length.Published on 4 Feb. 2013 by leah
Just occasionally-very occasionally- one comes across a writer blessed with a particular and almost unique genius for the written word. Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2012 by David Heald
I really didn't enjoy this book. It may at least be partly the fault of the translation; the style of it seemed too wordy and clunky. Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 2012 by emma who reads a lot
I loved the Elegance of the Hedgehog and so had high hopes for this one. However, I didn't sympathise with any of the characters, most of whom were selfish and self-seeking, and... Read morePublished on 28 Feb. 2012 by Barcelonadweller