9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fiendishly clever, totally engaging.,
This review is from: The Debt to Pleasure (Paperback)
Tarquin Winot, the speaker of this wickedly entertaining novel, is an artist, a dedicated gourmet, and a brilliant and thoughtful philosopher. He is also an intolerant and arrogant snob who foists his lofty opinions upon the reader as he travels from Portsmouth to southern France. In sometimes long-winded sentences, Winot comments on effete subjects, such as the erotics of dislike, the aesthetics of absence, and his disinterest in the idea of interest, while simultaneously creating deliciously sensuous descriptions of the perfect bouillabaise, lamb with apricots, or pike in beurre blanc.
Winot is so waspishly nasty, so full of condescension, and so unsympathetic a character that I almost gave up on him and the book, thinking both too rarefied to be interesting. Then the author "hooked" me with a few details that made me think that Winot might not be all he seemed to be--that he might be far more fascinating than I had previously suspected. As Winot takes the reader through a series of elaborate seasonal menus, he casually drops hints about his past, piquing the reader's interest and inspiring him/her to figure out exactly what kind of man Winot is and what, exactly, he has done. This strange, unwinding backstory becomes the compelling "plot."
Carefully crafted and (ultimately) coherent, this novel of intrigue is a delight to read, filled with sumptuous imagery, wickedly dark humor, and a series of mysteries that depend on the reader's ability to read between the lines and draw conclusions. Both cerebral and sensual, this is a literary entree one cannot help but savor. Mary Whipple