Gourmet Rhapsody takes place in the same affluent apartment building as The Elegance of the Hedgehog. This book, however, revolves around an elderly f...moreGourmet Rhapsody takes place in the same affluent apartment building as The Elegance of the Hedgehog. This book, however, revolves around an elderly food critic, Monsieur Arthens, who is on his deathbed. The story flip flops between the food critic desperately trying to remember a specific food or taste while he revisits old memories of his lifetime. The rest of the story is narrated by the various people in his life: wife, cat, children, etc. Some of them liked him and some absolutely loathe him. (Almost every section of the audio book is narrated by someone else with a lot of flashbacks.)
At first I did NOT like the food critic. Pompous. Vain. Wordy. But as I sat and knitted, I just started to salivate. I wanted to curl up with a glass of wine and listen to all the foods. (My husband just laughed at that because I am not what you'd call a foodie person.) And then I started to like ol' Monsieur Arthens. He's just on his deathbed remembering fond tastes and smells and experiences while all around him family and friends are judging him.
Anyway, there you have it. I did like it. I want to re-read it (not listen) because there are so many things said that I loved. No dog-earring with audio copies.(less)
The Coral Thief is set after the battle of Waterloo which marks the end of the reign of Napoleon. Now I've read books set during the French Revolution...moreThe Coral Thief is set after the battle of Waterloo which marks the end of the reign of Napoleon. Now I've read books set during the French Revolution (Mistress of the Revolution is awesome) but nothing set during this time period.
I'm a little torn over this book. I love the historical setting. And I wanted to love the characters...but somehow I just couldn't get close to them. There's a bit of romance, a bit of action, and a bit of Les Miserables going on.
So here's the story:
Daniel Conner, a student from Scotland, is on his way to Paris to study anatomy under the prestigious Jardin des Plantes. During the late night coach ride into the city, Daniel notices among the other passengers an attractive woman with a small child. He naturally strikes up a conversation with this lady on the long trek to Paris. The next day, he awakens on the coach to find the letters of introduction to the school missing as well as some coral specimens which were meant to be a gift for the school. Embarrassed and annoyed at his loss, he wants to know who this lady was and why she would steal these things. Daniel's quest for takes him into fascinating territories of post-Napoleon Paris.
I loved aspects of this novel. I was fascinated by the historical era this book takes place in. Rebecca Stott really made post-Napoleon Paris come alive. The characters were also so interesting. There was naive Daniel who really evolved and grew up throughout the story. The heroine of the novel - the coral thief - well, I just loved her. What a strong leading lady. And then the whole Les Miserables aspect (there's a Cosette type child and Javert type police inspector).
But the characters are the only problem with this story as well. They are a bit slippery. A bit mysterious. I couldn't quite get a grasp on them. Like the Coral Thief...I wanted to love her. She could really be one of my favorite literary characters...but the author kind of keeps her distance on the whole story. And I couldn't quite get what she was doing with Daniel.
A Girl Walks into a Bookstore reviewed this as well and mentioned that the writer seemed "emotionally detached" from the story. I totally understand what she meant. I'd love to see this story expanded and/or adapted into a movie or something. I would still recommend it for the historical time period it covers. And the Coral Thief...we'll, she's still a really cool character.(less)
I absolutely loved Mistress of the Revolution. It's a great historical fiction about a lady's life during the French Revolution. I wish I had read the...moreI absolutely loved Mistress of the Revolution. It's a great historical fiction about a lady's life during the French Revolution. I wish I had read the book when I was learning about the French Revolution in college...it clears up a lot of confusion. This is great for people who love historical fiction but don't want a whole lot of cheesy romance. I have my B.A. in History and am always impressed when authors such as Catherine Delors puts an amazing amount of effort to get not only the historical facts correct but also the feeling of the era as well. I'm looking forward to more books from this author. (less)