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The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood
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The Last Banquet (2013)

by Jonathan Grimwood

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1076169,393 (3.67)12

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Showing 5 of 5
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 consider how many times I mention it to my friends. It's been a couple of weeks since I finished this novel and I am still thinking about it. I have raised my star rating.
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  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Surveyed in dismay the glut of those cookie-cutter mysteries and fatuous chick-lit novels in the library's New Arrivals section. Then a eureka moment, and off to search the digital catalog for Europa Editions publications which are nearly uniformly good to excellent. (I think I've had only a couple so far I'd call a yawn. I'm lookin' at you, Elsa Ferrante.) The Last Banquet was one of the few novels I've read in several years that kept me up to the wee hours (4:45 am - yikes!). The first-person narration was compelling and the supporting characters varied and rich, including the pet tiger. (Great, now they'll all want one.) French aristocratic society of the latter 18th century is a fertile ground for storytelling and Grimwood makes the most of it in his first novel (he's a journalist by trade). Can't wait to see what he does next. ( )
  stringcat3 | Aug 28, 2016 |
Enjoyable and impressive first novel, a multi layered story with a final twist in the tale. Starting in pre-revolutionary France, it is the story of a boy rescued from a dung heap, who rises to become an aristocrat, while this very class is threatened by the drumbeat of revolution. ( )
  DramMan | Nov 9, 2014 |
In pre-revolutionary France, Jean-Marie d'Aumount's earliest memories are of eating beetles from the dung heap outside his dead parent's home. After being rescued from this, he begins a life of unusual tastes and adventures.

You can read my full review here...

(My thanks to the publishers for the ARC of this book, via Curious Book Fans.) ( )
  Davida.Chazan | Sep 7, 2013 |
Good

The book begins with Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumont as a penniless orphan eating dung beetles and when a passing noble takes pity on him and gives him Roquefort his future, as a creature of taste as the ultimate sense, is born. The book follows his life from this inauspicious start through his school years, his training to be a soldier, his friendship with a couple of nobles and his later career as master of the menagerie at Versailles. His life rushes along, with lifelong friendships made and loves found and lost, towards the 1790’s and the advent of revolutionary France. He corresponds with Voltaire and meets Benjamin Franklin and always throughout all his experiences he explores the world of taste. Peppered through the book are recipes, my favourite being the one for Wolf’s Heart (although, of course, I haven’t had the chance to try it). It is a large stage and our players have some difficulty filling it, there is a lack of dramatic exploration of the historic backdrop as our narrator remains firmly on the sidelines. However it does have lots of drama at a human scale and throughout it is Jean-Marie’s quest for taste that makes the book. Grimwood, through Jean-Marie, looks dispassionately at pre-revolutionary France seeing both the good and the bad and Jean-Marie's dislike of Versailles comes through in his often graphic descriptions of e.g. people defecating in the flower beds or urinating in the corridors.

Overall – A fantastic idea competently executed but didn’t have that extra spark to make it great, yet is still a tasty treat. ( )
  psutto | Aug 8, 2013 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Follows an adventurous man, once a penniless orphan, through French society during the Enlightenment as he searches for the perfect taste, befriends Benjamin Franklin, becomes pen pals with the Marquis de Sade and Voltaire, and improves contraceptive methods.… (more)

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