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. Now in dire financial straits and his wife now very sick and bed ridden, they are persuaded by friends to take on a maid who is reluctant, but sent by her family and will serve without wages, but who is hampered by the effects of childhood polio but the very image of Bernhardt who is now long dead. A long and winding tale that alternates between Mme Escoffier and the maid, with Escoffier at the heart of everything, his devotion and romantic attachment to food uppermost, resulting in some very flowery language at times. Interesting read. It took me a while to get through but I found it informative and entertaining, to be generous. I didn't really take much to Bernhardt who was portrayed as somewhat spoilt and silly personality at times, and at others a more whimsical and human character. Escoffier's favourite and core ingredients of truffles, caviar and foie gras left me a little less impressed by his culinary skills, seemingly dependent on the most expensive ingredients for taste as much as his skills. His claims to be able to cook eggs in over 600 ways left me cold and thinking, silly man, what a waste of time. However he was the most innovative chef of his era, and undoubtedly a genius in his own fashion,less the demi god I had imagined. Well worth a read, and fascinating in many respects, the author was in fact quite brutally honest revealing the flaws within the genius and a man obsessed, with food and Bernhardt, a figure who feels distant, self contained and solitary in many ways despite his history, now approaching the end, and the debilitating last illness of the wife he had neglected for so many years but loved in his own way if not as compulsively and passionately as the famous actress.