Title: The Last Banquet
Author: Jonathan Grimwood
Synopsis: Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things. Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover. And chef.
This is his story.
We meet Jean-Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to it and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.
Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.
Passionate love, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean-Marie’s life, but his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feast.
But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind
Star Rating: 5 of 5
Review: 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 opinion, not for the faint of heart. But if you’re strong of stomach, you’ll love the story of the little orphan boy that grows up to struggle through an extraordinary life during the French revolution.