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White Truffles in Winter [Paperback]

N. M. Kelby
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Sep 2012
An extraordinary tale of France s greatest chef, his loves and a country on the brink of war. White Truffles in Winter imagines the world of the remarkable French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who changed how we eat through his legendary restaurants at the Savoy and the Ritz. A man of contradictions - kind yet imperious, food-obsessed yet rarely hungry - Escoffier was also torn between two women: the famous, beautiful, and reckless actress Sarah Bernhardt and his wife, the independent and sublime poet Delphine Daffis, who refused ever to leave Monte Carlo. In the last year of Escoffier's life, in the middle of writing his memoirs, he has returned to Delphine, who requests a dish in her name as he has honored Bernhardt, Queen Victoria, and many others..

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd (14 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846882079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846882074
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 888,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Beautifully layered and lovingly detailed, White Truffles in Winter is a tale of extraordinary people entangled in a captivating love story. Filled with lush and decadent longing, this novel will dazzle the mind as well as the senses.' --Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise: A Novel

'Fabulous conceit... bon appetit.' --Good Housekeeping

'A vivid and detailed reconstruction of a bygone era.' --The Independent

'Kelby conjures a pre-World War II world where food is almost as good as love.' -- Vogue

" 'Food is a thing of enchantment' says Escoffier, the chef credited with pioneering the modern dining experience, and Kelby's tale, gorgeously written, is sprinkled with the same magical allure." -- Voted Paperback of the Month by The Good Book Guide

'This is a book that one can imagine to be a biography with its detailed and wonderfully researched account of this enigmatic man's life. Yet one knows it is a novel by the beautifully poetic descriptions by the author. She has a real talent with words and this story of love on so many levels is memorable. I shall keep it on my book shelf and remember how much I enjoyed it.' -- The York Press

'Nicole's writing is sumptuous and beautiful, a sensual experience to match that of eating the dishes she describes, from gallons of homely tomato sauce to a julienne of black spring truffles perfumed like new grass.' --The Historical Novel Magazine

About the Author

N.M.Kelby (Nicole Mary Kelby) has been translated into several languages and offered by The Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Quality Paperback Book Club. She is the recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship in Literature, an NEA Inter-Arts grant, the Heekin Group Foundation's James Fellowship for the Novel, both a Florida and Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship in fiction, two Jerome Travel Study Grants, and a Jewish Arts Endowment Fellowship. She is the critically acclaimed author of In the Company of Angels, Whale Season and the Florida Book Award winner A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts, among others.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars White Truffles in Winter 28 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel is based upon the life of Auguste Escoffier, a chef to the rich, powerful and influential. Told in the form of memoirs, written when Escoffier is an elderly man in Monte Carlo where his wife Delphine is dying and shortly before the outbreak of WWII, they tell the story of a career and a marriage. Married for fifty five years, the Escoffier's have spent much of their life apart. Delphine both a poet and a woman who raised their family while Escoffier worked his magic in kitchens across the world - here are the names of famous hotels, such as the Ritz and the Savoy, and menu's created for the great transatlantic liners of the day, including Titanic. It is also the story of Escoffier's love for Sarah Bernhardt and how Delphine coped with both her husband's absence and his love for another woman.

This really is a treat of a novel, ideal to curl up with on winter evenings. Forget the celebrity chefs of today, Escoffier was a man who really knew the rich and famous of his time, who cooked for royalty, the influential and the rich and famous. After winning his wife in a billiards game with her father, there are moving scenes where he teaches her about his world. His kitchen was his life and it was a place of great sensuality. As Delphine lays, elderly and ill, she wants her husband to create a dish for her. This novel jumps everywhere, skipping through time, memories and dishes, all lovingly and beautifully described. A real treat, slow, moving and memorable, it is a novel that I am sure I will return to.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN UNUSUAL DISH 24 Jun 2012
By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The first thing to remember when reading WHITE TRUFFLES IN WINTER by N.M. Kelby is that while the three central characters are "real" the story itself is the work of the author's rather vivid imagination. In it she conjures up a tale of food, love, and the love of food. Her imaginative journey into the life of food-obsessed chef, Auguste Escoffier, his unconventionally liberated wife, poet Delphine Daffis, and the "other woman" in his life - the bold, free-spirited Sarah Bernhardt is as delectable to one's reading palate as the dishes created by this amazing chef who pioneered French cuisine.

Being neither a gourmet cook nor an expert in fine dining, I was not personally familiar with the name Auguste Escoffier but discovered that I was, however, familiar with some of the dishes he created like Peach Melba and Cherries Jubilee (created for Queen Victoria) as well as some of the famous places where he plied his talent like The Ritz, The Carlton and The Savoy hotels.

The tale is basically told in retrospect by an aged Escoffier and combines the story of his unconventional love life with unusual recipes, related in a most uncommon manner. At times the recipes almost overwhelm the story as Kelby chooses to demonstrate Escoffier's compulsion for creating the new and unusual in an effusive and highly romanticized fashion. For this reader at least, some of this descriptive writing was a little "over the top" and flowery, however, it did convey the message that Escoffier could never really be as loving and devoted to any woman as he was to his first true love, food for which he abandoned family, friends and homeland.

Author Kelby presents an interesting take on the life of Escoffier and his many contributions to the art of cooking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious! 22 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Here's an interesting take on French cooking - a biographical look at the man who popularized it, way back in the late 1800s. He's the man who popularized dining out for the wealthy set, and was chef at some of Europe's finest hotels. He is what one could call the original Master Chef.

The story is an imagined retrospective, set at a time when the elderly chef is facing the approaching death of his wife. His life, oddly spent mostly away from his wife, with the other love, Sandra Bernhardt, makes him contradictory figure, but his life in food is where the real meat and potatoes of the story are, so to speak. His encounters with the powerful, the royal and the famous, and his work in the restaurants of iconic hotels fill his life. He was, inevitably, a man obsessed with food. In 1903, he wrote Le Guide Culinaire, which has ever since been a culinary bible, still used today to teach chefs.

The story revealed here is one of food, of love, and the combination of the two. It is a cosy diversion from today's hot-heated televisions chefs; a delicious look at a time and a world of decadence and excellence sadly gone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an erotic and gastronomic novel of sensuality 16 April 2013
By David Spanswick VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Interwoven with the superbly researched story of Escoffier, master chef, master sensualist, master lover, are the famous recipes he used to seduce and ultimately to influence the luxuriousness of at least two of the world's most famous kitchens.

I can imagine Ms Kelby had one finger on a gastronomic thesaurus as the language of this novel is as pleasingly sensual as the food and epoch it evokes. What is it about food that even reading about it can inspire the flavours and scents of those chaotic kitchens?

The book is not only full of these sensory delights but also the colours conjuring the late 19th century early 20th century's treasures and riches. "Yellow as pineapples" muses Escoffier at the sight of La Bernhardt magical "greenhouse" of a studio filled with decadent guests. The air, itself, screams a blend of demi monde and Art Nouveau.

This is a truly extraordinary adventure of a book, at times, way over the top in its indulgence ~ just like the menus cooked for the delight of the "crazy for food" clients at the Ritz.

Seduction through food is hardly new as we know from Petronius and the ancients but are the same matters true of modern cuisine with its health consciousness and celebrity visibility?

From keeping Paris fed during the siege (did they really serve elephant?) to the culinery hints that sprinkle this delightful meringue of a tale any reader will find something to delight them as on a well documented menu card from a distant and glorious past
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Just the job
Published 1 day ago by christine
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant read. Very moreish.
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars A culinary treat
Excellent service and a most enjoyable read, I knew very little about Escoffier apart from his name and was intrigued to learn more about him
Published 2 months ago by C. Beardshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
The final chapter in the life of Escoffier and his wife, from whom he had spent years separated as he forged his career and spent his time with his true love Sarah Bernhardt. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alison Towers
5.0 out of 5 stars TWILIGHT OF A GOD
Gradually the end nears. Master chef Escoffier, now in his late eighties, lives in near poverty with wife Delphine who is paralysed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. D. L. Rees
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating.
What an interesting glimpse into the history of one of the greatest chefs ever to have lived. Fascinating stories about the rich and famous lives that he touched, and a real human... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Alice Anagram
2.0 out of 5 stars Great title but then that's it..
I can be a bit annul and have to finish a book I start even if I don't enjoy it... I didn't get more than a third thru... That I think says it all..!
Published 5 months ago by silverladysurfer
2.0 out of 5 stars too long
Didn't mind plodding storyline at first but became a bit much about 100 pages from the end. I did finish it though. An ok book.
Published 6 months ago by Debbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
I loved this book, very well written and rich in beautiful detail you easily forget that this is a work of fiction, it is so absorbing you will be disappointed to reach the end. Read more
Published 7 months ago by B. Bello
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with some reservations
I did find this book a little difficult to settle in to at first as it leaps from scene to scene & different time zones rather confusingly. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr. K. Cross
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