Cooking for Picasso

Cooking for Picasso

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
4
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"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 Cafe Paradis. A mysterious new patron who's slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request--to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he's secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito. Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life--and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family's authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny. New York, present day: Celine, a Hollywood makeup artist who's come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother's enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Celine carries out Julie's wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d'Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Celine discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future. Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera's most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France, Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make, as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2016
ISBN: 9780399177651
0399177655
Characteristics: 390 pages ; 25 cm
Call Number: AUBRAY, C

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h
harrissusanc
Sep 19, 2017

Céline travels to Provence with her aunt and sets out to reclaim Picasso's painting of her grandmother. An inspiring story about the transcendent journey of La Fille à la Fenêtre through three generations, their accomplices and the South of France that picks up at midpoint.

s
sgcf
Jun 06, 2017

This book was selected for our book club by a member who is a real foodie and in this way the book satisfies. (She cooked us a très délicieux 6-course French dinner based on food descriptions in the book.)
I found the story of three generations of French women separated through eight decades rather melodramatic. The plot stretched my credibility with umpteen coincidences and characters who were two-dimensional, either hero or villain. The most developed character was Picasso as we saw various facets of his personality. I had not known of Picasso’s private tendencies of misogynist bullying with his wife and harem of mistresses throughout his life. "If you’re a genius, they don’t call you a pervert." (p.101)
It’s a light read, structured as a formulaic mystery and, as such, I found it a page turner, despite the over-the-top writing style.

g
gvenkatesh
Dec 27, 2016

An ambitious attempt at story-telling that combines food, art, history and romance that is worth a read in front of a fireplace in the winter. More for female audiences than males given its propensity to push more of the emotional buttons for the former than the latter.

It is very successful in embedding a historical and celebrity figure into a work of fiction with an imagined look at the character in private moments. It is also an example of being a good foodie novel in the sense of cooking and cuisine being a part of life. Not a fad and a hobby as in contemporary foodie fiction that just caters to an addiction to food-porn by reciting menus and ingredients.

What keeps it from being a great novel is that most of the material is not new. Any number of novels and movies exist on the theme of artists/writers in the French Riviera and their young muses. The dysfunctional American family is a trademark of most contemporary American fiction. The type of romance in the novel is a staple of Harlequin novels. Calamities and misfortune strike at calculated intervals to lead to a fairy-tale ending. There is no intent to provoke deeper social, philosophical or moral dilemmas/ambiguities.

Just competent story-telling that does not pretend to be anything more.

l
laphampeak
Nov 25, 2016

I love stories that bring a bit of art and history into being. Here we have a story of a family, particularly a young Odine, who works for, and has a brief affair with Picasso. The writer's tale has flow and a style that takes you right to the scene. It was an interesting read, not gripping.
Why not transcend time and place and travel in words to the south of France, take in the recipes of past tradition, romance, and art?

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