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Cooking for Picasso

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  6,244 ratings  ·  748 reviews
For readers of Paula McLain, Nancy Horan, and Melanie Benjamin, this captivating novel is inspired by a little-known interlude in the artist’s life.

The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron
ebook, 400 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,244 ratings  ·  748 reviews

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May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Aubrey's painterly writing style awakens the senses to the beauty of the South of France, to the sensuality of a multi flavored meal, to the brush caressing the canvas.

The reader is seduced by Picasso while being repelled by him at the same time. His story includes the effects of war and abusive relationships along with his passion for painting.

The author teases the reader with a mystery that, if solved, will be life-changing. How will betrayal and abuse affect the process? Will the solution, i
Cindy Burnett
May 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: net-galley

I want to start my review by saying that I expected to love this book. I loved the last series that this author wrote, writing as CA Belmond, starting with A Rather Lovely Inheritance. I also have a great fascination with art and artists so I fully expected that this would be the book for me. However, sadly it was not.

The story takes place across the decades, the modern story completely in 2016 and the historic part starting in 1936 until shortly before the main character in 2016 is born. Bo
Julie Boudreau
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had such a hard time putting this book down. although this book is technically fiction. It felt so real and informed that you want to believe it with everything you have. the author's ability to whisk you away into her own fantasy is uncanny. make sure you start reading this when you have no plans for the next say 12 hours.. because it is THAT good ...more
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

One of my regrets was not taking an art appreciation class in college. So, I have a thing for novels about artists. This book alternates between two time periods. The first is 1936 in Juan-les-Pins during the time Picasso was creating his Minotaur series. The second is modern day, as the granddaughter of the cook researches the prior period.

It helps to have access to visuals. Thank God for Google and being able to view the paintings in question. It's almost a shame novels like this can't includ
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cooking for Picasso was a diversion that I enjoyed to take me to a place that I love, namely the beautiful French Riviera as the backdrop of the multigenerational saga of three women. At it's heart is the young and spirited 16-year old Ondine helping out in her parents' restaurant Café Paradis where she cycles daily taking one of their spectacular luncheons to a mysterious guest from Paris, an artist who is going by his family name of Ruiz but is the famous Pablo Picasso. Ondine begins to prepar ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF-ed it because I could bear no more.
Although I am a sucker for the French Riviera and the good food and fancy lifestyle there I just couldn't stand to read through the so-called action of this book. It's just not for me.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. It had all of the elements I like: France, art, cooking, and a mystery. But overall the book was just ok. The storyline was just too unbelievable with way too many coincidences. Sigh.
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie-reads
If you are a Francophile and food and art lover, you will adore Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray.

I received a free audio book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, exclamations, gushings and rants are my own.

Let me just say that I didn’t realize I would receive an audio book and was a bit disappointed when it came in the mail. My mood soon changed. Since it was the holiday season and I had no time to read, I popped the first CD in the car and I was soon hooked. (This unabri
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martie Nees Record
Jun 24, 2016 rated it liked it
The novel is actually two stories. Yes, it alternates in time but it also seems to be of two different genres; a romance novel and a historical fiction. One is narrated by a current day young American woman who goes to France to find a long lost treasure of her French grandmother’s. She enrolls in a cooking class, finds love with a bad boy chef (who of course has a heart of gold like most romance novels dictate), while embarking on an utterly unrealistic adventure. It reads so saccharine I might ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for a fair review.
I was lost in the story and enjoyed reading this book so much that I could hardly put it down. Although I don’t care for stories going back and forth in time, two parallel time lines expanding from 1936 to 2016, covering the lives of four generations of women, great grandmother, grandmother, mother, and the daughter, is done so skillfully and personality traits of each woman are portrayed so intimatel
Susan Heim
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Cooking for Picasso" is a fascinating blend of fact and fiction. The author's imagining of what occurred during Picasso's stay in the French Riviera in the spring of 1936 felt compellingly real. Those few months had a lasting impact on Ondine, the seventeen-year-old who cooked for him, and the generations that followed. Although the parts about Ondine were my favorite, it was also a delight to read about her granddaughter's quest to find out more about Ondine's life. The characters were vividly ...more
Susan Ovans
Pretty awful– trite, predictable, and clichéd. Also, I am tired of books that flash back to tell a parallel story from the past every other chapter. That's this year's trend in fiction, and it's annoying. ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a complete imagining of what might have transpired during a short period of Picasso’s life. It’s true that Picasso took some time away from society in Paris in the spring of 1936. He anonymously rented a villa in the French Riviera. He was going through some nasty marital problems (having a mistress didn’t help there) and he hadn’t been able to paint for months but that spring he was able to paint again. Most of Picasso’s paintings referenced in the book are real except for one.

I ha
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The setting for most of this book is Juan-les-Pins, a small town outside Antibes, in Southeastern France on the Cote d'Azur. This is where Picasso retreated to in 1936, during a tumultuous period in his personal life in which he actually stopped painting! What inspired him to pick up his paintbrush in the South of France? Was it the scenery? Or maybe it was the Bouillabaisse! Camille Aubray would have you believe it was the delicious Provencal cuisines... and the chef preparing the sumptuous mea ...more
Pat Jorgenson Waterchilde
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful read! Everything that makes a book a wonderful book all came together in this novel to make it an exceptional read. Ondine lives in France with her parents who own a resturant. It is 1936. A man, renting a nearby villa, has requested lunch be delivered everyday. Ondine's mother gives her the responsibility. The man turns out to be Picasso and a friendship forms. Fast forward to 2014 as Ondine's granddaughter worries over the medical condition of her mother and is troubled by the ...more
Paula Ackley
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Romance, mystery, family squabbles, picturesque France, and great food. Engrossing story, wonderful characters, great writing, and beautiful imagery all come together in one satisfying meal! The storyline goes back and forth between two characters and two timelines but they blend so well together like a flavorful stew. (Corny I know but "stew and meal" seem appropriate for this book). If you have the time curl up in your favorite chair, turn off the phone, have a glass of some ...more
Laura Beth
Nov 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
I tried and tried to get through this book and finally realized life is too short and there are too many good books out there calling my name. The description looked promising but the writing is dreadful and where it was headed just made me upset. Seriously, I think my 9th grader has a better writing style. On a minor note, the characters talk out loud, in quotes all the time. That doesn’t happen in real life unless it’s an expletive or they’re crazy. Sorry to digress but wouldn’t waste time nor ...more
E.J. Bauer
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love France, I love cooking, I love Picasso's work, I love historical settings and I love a good mystery. Oh and a touch of romance as well. That in essence is Cooking with Picasso, but there's so much more. This author captures the essence of southern France in 1936 and highlights her story with details of traditional French food and descriptions of one of Picasso's works Femme à la montre (Woman with a Watch) which had me googling for images. The story switches effortlessly from pre-war Fran ...more
Katie Nunes
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I would give 3.5 stars if I could. I did enjoy the two stories (grandmother and granddaughter), the discussions of the art and the cooking, and also the images of the south of France. But it took a long time for me to engage with the characters and at times it felt a bit contrived. Ultimately, I did find it to be an enjoyable read, and I feel I learned a lot more about Picasso than I knew before,
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cooking for Picasso was the perfect summer read! Loved the breezy beautiful language and the descriptions of sensuous foods, the intertwining love stories, the mystery surrounding one of Picasso's paintings and the descriptions of the tiny French Village and cafe's. Just enjoyed it thoroughly! Great Relaxing Read to escape to!
Loved it!
Barbara Bryant
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Three generations of women, Picasso and his art, glorious food, an attractive chef, summer on the coast of France, a mystery that spans decades... Three days after finishing Cooking for Picasso, I'm still trying to find words to describe how much this story touched me, inspired me, gave me joy. Highly recommended! ...more
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Intriguing story. Loved the Picasso & Ondine storyline I liked the way it ended but felt parts of it dragged on a bit & the story of Ondine & Luc in New York with the mob was unnecessary. Overall a good read for anyone who likes historical fiction & stories with art background
3.5ish. This is written in two timelines: 1936 and present day. Seventeen-year-old Ondine is working in her parents' cafe in the Spring of 1936, when she is asked to deliver meals to a special Patron, a painter who wishes to remain incognito. Ondine ends up cooking his meals herself, and becomes an accomplished chef over time. The painter, of course, is Picasso, and Ondine becomes his model for a few paintings, one of which he promises to Ondine.

The alternate timeline follows Celine, her grandda
May 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5* I had an unusual experience with this book. I started listening to it as an audiobook and while I liked the narrator the story didn't excite me. There were so many elements that should have made it the perfect book for me. Art, food, the South of France, what could go wrong? The answer for me was that the characters were weak, even Picasso. I was getting bored and I didn't want to spend more time with them and yet, when my audiobook malfunctioned I picked up a print copy and finished it. In ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-other
Spanning the time period from 1936 to 2016, this book jumps back and forth to tell the story of two women: Ondine, a young girl living in a small village on the French Riviera in 1936, and Celine, a Hollywood makeup artist, and Ondine's granddaughter, born on the day Ondine died. Interspersed with this is a bit of the story of Ondine's daughter, and Celine's mother Julie.

In addition to being told from Ondine's and Julie's perspectives, some chapters are also told from Picasso's perspective. For
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a little tired of the popular structure of women's fiction novels these days to "wrap" a historical story inside one set in the present day about a descendant of a character in the historical story. And, of the tendency to include famous historical figures as bit players in the novel. However, after a slow start, the double mystery - how a Picasso painting was lost/hidden in the past and how it is eventually found in present day - makes for an interesting read eventually. I don't think this ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a delightful read. Although it was not always believable, but what the heck, it was still fun and kept my interest throughout the different points in time, locations and characters. I'll remember it for sure and that's a special quality which I can't exactly put into words. ...more
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a Chick Lit flavor but something for many of us - romance, culture, mystery, treasure hunt. Excellent story - I love it!
Galyn Hembree
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
so much fun. Everything I love: cooking, travel, art, love... a fine escape.
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Camille Aubray is the author of the new novel, THE GODMOTHERS, and the novel COOKING FOR PICASSO, which was chosen for People Magazine’s “People Picks the Best New Books”, and the Indie Next Reading Groups List. Aubray was an Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship winner and a writer-in-residence at the Karolyi Foundation in the South of France. She was also a finalist for the Pushcart Press Editors’ ...more

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“Even to herself, she could not explain the anxious, cold feeling in the pit of her stomach. All this time while he’d been painting her he’d made her feel like the most important woman in the world, and his pleasure warmed her as if she were lying on a beach basking in pure sunlight. Now, without warning, it was if the moon had just eclipsed the sun, blackening it out and leaving her shivering in a day as dark as night, fearing that the sun would never return to warm her up again.” 1 likes
“When things are chaotic, and everyone else is distracted by the storm and the roiling waves, you have a unique opportunity to get what you want without being noticed.” 0 likes
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