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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  880 ratings  ·  151 reviews
Jean-Marie Charles d'Aumout is wees, aristocraat, militair, spion en held van de Verlichting. Maar bovenal is hij chef. Smaak begint als de kleine Jean-Marie zich, na de dood van zijn ouders in leven houdt met kraakverse kevers. Dankzij geluk, een dapper hart en een scherpe geest groeit hij uit tot diplomaat. Hij wordt zelfs eigenaar van de meest decadente menagerie uit de ...more
Paperback, 375 pages
Published August 2013 by Xander (first published 2013)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  880 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bloated. Terribly bloated & over long. This book needed an editor to prune it by about 100 pages. The opening scenes of the narrator as a young child eating beetles? Great, evocative, & hope-giving that this would continue to be a provocative & interesting yarn. But sadly, no. No, it was a well-written boring book with a first person narrator I cared nothing about....I never managed to get a grip on his character or any reason why I should give two figs about what happens to him. It was one of t ...more
It's not normally the type of book that I would read but what I liked about this story was how it was a very strange and different story. I would say it's worth buying and reading. ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We meet Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumont in 1723, the child of a noble family, indebted and starved. The child’s odd sense of taste, brought on by hunger for survival, comes to the attention of the Regent and some nobles who find him crunching happily on stag beetles … beetles taste of what they eat. This Jean-Marie knows – everything edible tastes of what it eats or takes from the soil. Just smelling things makes his mouth water.
His parents are dead – the villagers who ransack the crumbling castle
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, sf-fantasy
Jonathan Grimwood is, of course, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, SF author of The End of the World Blues, among others. I must say I was quite ambivalent about this. It is intriguing and well written, but just did not take fire for me.

Grimwood falls into the common trap of historical fiction (and certain SF, coming to think of it) of deploying his main protagonist more as a mouthpiece than a flesh-and-blood character, as a means to explore a world, in this case pre-Revolution France, and in particular V
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Magnifique. Brilliant. One of the most unique books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

The first time I noticed Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet was when I saw it up on NetGalley several weeks ago and I thought about how cool the cover was. For some reason I cast it aside, telling myself I already have plenty of books to read. Weeks pass, and reviews from a few bloggers I trust for recommendations pop up, drowning the book in praise. I checked bac
The Last Banquet is a book that has great moments and overall hangs together well, but whose episodic character and "outside observer" mostly emotionless first person narration stop it from being one of those truly memorable novels that one reads many times

The story is simple - poor and orphan but of noble blood, Jean Marie d'Aumout is lucky to be noticed by the passing "Regent", the former ruler of France and his retinue who send him to a school for poor nobility and later to an officer academy
Essie Fox
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Think Restoration by Rose Tremain, but set in the world of aristocratic France before the revolution. Think Perfume by Patrick Suskind but with the allure of food and taste, in many and varied guises.

If you enjoyed those novels then I'm sure you'll love The Last Banquet, a novel which stands entirely alone in originality and grace. This is a compelling read which explores all human appetites - hunger for food, for pleasure, for love, and also the hunger of social ambition, to rise from ignoranc
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, food
I LOVED this book.

On a superficial level perhaps I love it because the central character is obsessed with taste; he wants to know the taste of everything. He devises recipes for all manner of unlikely ingredients, from cat to flamingo tongues. But it's not really just about taste is it? It's more about hunger, and a need to experience the new.

The book is set in France in the years leading up to the Revolution. We first meet the central character when he is a child, sitting on a dung heap, so h
Mark Staniforth
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Last Banquet' is a ravenous novel by any standards, a swirling account of life amid the crumbling nobility of 18th century France, propelled by its narrator's insatiable appetite for food and flesh.
It starts with a scene in which the newly-orphaned Jean-Marie d'Aumout is found feasting on beetles on a dung-heap. Because of his aristocratic origins he is rescued and sent to a military academy, setting a course for life among the nation's ludicrously over-privileged elite.
Notable friendships
It's a very good, but partially unsatisfying book. The descriptive writing is wonderful. The portrait of the corruption and depravity of Versailles and the brutality and desperation of the lives of the peasants make the excesses of the Revolution sensible in a way that is awful.

Better than I could ever say it - Christobel Kent writing in The Guardian July 19, 2013:

There is much to enjoy in this book: it is racily picaresque, energetic and clever. History is deftly and diligently interposed with
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG! This was a serendipity find on the "new" shelf at my public library. RAVENOUS! More, PLEASE, Mr. Jonathan Grimwood!

Fantastically sensual 1st person autobiography of Jean-Marie D'Aumout's life and adventures in Louis XV's France. There is such a non-2013 (or any modern era) factor in this book that I am flummoxed to adequately describe its quality and nuance. Suffice it to say that if you are a vegetarian or have high PC standards re animal products or feel your religion is cored in work to
Nicole Delacroix
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was a bit skeptical about this book when it was first recommended to me. I wasn't sure it was necessarily my cup of tea, but figured I'd give it a few chapters to win me over. I'm very glad that I did, the writer has an ability to transport the reader. His style is reminiscent of Hemingway the way I can feel and taste every word. The story is rich with history and ingeniously included recipes (not sure if they are real).
The writing was lyrical and is an original and ambitious story in my opin
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will confess. I knew nothing of this book or its author when I first picked it up. I judged this book worthy to read by its cover. There is a silhouette of a tiger in a powdered wig and livery, looking proud but wary. Then the title: The Last Banquet. I knew as soon as I started to read it that I would love it. It's part historical fiction, part tale of struggle and overcoming, part cook book, part erotica. Or protagonist is an orphan, a super-taster, an animal lover, and a good person. There ...more
Most reviews I've read have compared this to 'Perfume' by Patrick Suskind, however I think it could better be likened to a combination of Andrew Miller's 'Pure', and N M Kelby's 'White Truffles in Winter'; this has all the elegance and charm of an 18th century philosophical tract combined with the luscious, sensual delights found in one of Nigella Lawson's recipe books. A captivating story with a poignant and apt ending this is a delight from start to finish. ...more
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The flow in writing was musical.
The story was grand and sorrowful.
The ups and downs explained and beautiful.
A truly satisfying novel.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor...

I described Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet to a friend as fluff dressed up in a pre-revolutionary French costume. That’s not to imply anything negative because this book is a pure delight – every page plump with historical detail, surprising plot twists and terrific writing to boot.

The story begins with a young boy, Jean-Marie d’Aumout, eating beetles by the side of the road. He’s a penniless orphan but by the grace of having
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book deserves more than three stars but is not quite a four!
Interesting story set in historically interesting times before / up to the French Revolution. Famous people of the time such as Votaire and Benjamin Franklin pop in to the story at times too.
The main character John-Marie is pretty flat though. I didnt find that I liked him that much although he was quite a liberal of his time.
The women in his life are not that well developed as characters either and seemed to come and go without
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was NOT a very compelling book, however it was not so offensive as to make me actively dislike it. The setting is during the 1700s in France, a boy is found orphaned in dire circumstances who is obsessed with the taste of everything. There is definitely a 'grossness' factor in the descriptions of what he eats and tastes (not a book for the squeamish). But it's also not very well structured. Large chunks of the book are missing any mention about his supposed obsession with taste. There is a ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rather a strange book about a young man who tastes well and loves to taste everything (dung beetles, animals, human flesh) and appreciates what he eats. That tasting fetish also gets him into some pretty strange sexual activities. He lives and grows old in the days before and then of the French Revolution. There are some interesting observations about the horrid stench and situation of Versailles back when it was booming, and also that the French might not have had their revolution had they not ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit it - I'm a bit of a foodie. And that's what originally drew me to this book. But - don't read it for the food (I suspect most of us are not interested in eating things like pickled wolf's heart), read it because it's an engaging story with memorable characters. Set in France in the 18th century, Jean-Marie's desire to experience the world through taste is only a small part of the story. A little history and alot of character (and characters), this is a delightful read. An just in case yo ...more
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, france
A wacky yet enjoyable book. The main voice of the book is a man that begins his life as an impoverished French noble, and ends as the Revolution is busting down his chateau door. In between, his adventurous eating habits first make him an object of ridicule, then earn him a more admired status. It also helps keep him alive when he most needs it.

12/6: Some books definitely take a seat within my soul and stay for a bit longer than others, and that's how I rate them. As time passes I also consid
Richard Cytowic
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bawdy, picaresque romp through the French Revolution, and more, complete with extreme eating from dung beetles and pickeld wolf's heart to snake and owl!
Read my full review of The Last Banquet in The New York Journal of Books.

A list of recent reviews can also be found on Richard Cytowic's reviewer page.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My book of the year .
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were parts of this book that I found fascinating. Other parts were just repulsive. I'm afraid the repulsive parts overshadowed the rest and I would not recommend this book. ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light-reading
Thought the recipes were unnecessary. The beginning was brilliant, towards the end the story petered out. Never really got into what the politics were like for lord pre-french revolution
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Actually 3;5 stars. A good book but too much strange sex scenes in it. The ending is terribly dramatic and unexpected.
Worth reading for the love and passion of food. The protagonist was a bit to goody-goody to keep him interesting. The overall story of telling about French History through the eyes of a nobleman reminded me a bit of The Remains of the Day, which is one of my favorite books. Overall a quick read that slowed a bit towards the end.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
weird, but good.
Beth (bibliobeth)
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Banquet, translated by Maria Maestro was recommended to me on a reading spa I went to at the wonderful Mr B's Emporium Of Reading Delights with Chrissi Reads. To be honest, considering that eye-catching cover, it's the sort of book that would have intrigued me enough to pick it up but I'm not sure on the synopsis alone whether I would have been compelled to follow through and read it. Luckily, the book-seller who encouraged me to give it a try was incredibly persuasive and I became exci ...more
Vincent Noel
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is a first-person narrative, and follows Jean-Marie Charles D'Aumont from his penniless but noble infancy to his death at a ripe old age near the dawn of French Revolution. In the meantime, he had two wives and several children, reluctantly inspected the stench and decadence of Versailles up close, witnessed the peasantry grow hungry and desperate, was made war prisoner in Corsica during peace negotiations, and experimented with apparently everything there is to cook and taste below the ...more
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Henry Stokes Book...: The Last Banquet - Review 1 1 Aug 30, 2014 03:34AM  
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The Readers: Book #12; The Last Banquet - Jonathan Grimwood 2 18 Aug 12, 2013 07:18AM  

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Aka Jack Grimwood.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. Apart from novels he writes for national newspapers including the Times, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian. Jon is two-time winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel, with Felaheen, and End of the World Blues. His literary novel, The Last Ba

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