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Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray
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Cooking for Picasso

by Camille Aubray

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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 had so believed that I would love this book. I find the art world a fascinating one and love to read about France. And French cooking – what’s not to love? But I should have known better. I know the reputation Picasso has and feel rather dumb for thinking this would be a charming book actually about cooking for Picasso. Sure, the main character, Ondine, did cook for him but their relationship didn’t stop there. He was 54 and she was only 17. I felt so let down when the story took this turn. It felt far too obvious to me and I had hoped that this would be a different type of book. Apparently, cooking for Picasso = modeling for Picasso = sleeping with Picasso. What else is a young girl to do being around such a great artist? Ho hum.

Of course, there’s much more to the story than that. There’s also the story of Ondine’s granddaughter, Celine, who, when she learns that her grandmother once cooked for Picasso, decides to visit the place where Picasso and Ondine met, sort out a fight for an inheritance and search for a possibly missing painting. And there are lovely descriptions of France and its cooking. But although parts of the book were in fact as charming as I had thought they would be, it wasn’t enough to save this one for me.

I did enjoy looking at the photos on the author’s website at www.camilleaubray.com of the places that inspired some of the locations in her book.

This audio book was given to me by the publisher through Blogging for Books in return for an honest review. ( )
  hubblegal | Feb 16, 2017 |
This is the story about two women of the same family, living in different times and separate continents, who are connected by blood in history. The narration alternates between 17-year-old Ondine, a cook at her family's café in a small town on the French Riviera in 1936, and Celine, Ondine's granddaughter, who lives in present day California and learns from her ailing mother that Grandma Ondine once cooked exclusively for the great and notorious Picasso. With her mother's health in rapid decline, Celine finds herself traveling to the small town of Juan-les-Pins, France, in hopes to uncover the mysteries of her family's history and determine what part the great painter, if any, played in her grandmother Ondine's life and legacy.

This was my first introduction to author, Camille Aubray, and I was pleased to find she is an absolutely exquisite writer. I listened to the audio version of 'Cooking for Picasso' on CD and it was such a beautiful and relaxing experience that I was truly sad when the book was over. I primarily listen to audiobooks while driving in my car and I found myself purposefully taking longer routes and remaining in my vehicle even after reaching my destination in order to continue listening to this eloquent novel. Aubray's descriptive style and attention to detail made me feel like I was on holiday in the French Riviera, at a café in a little seaside village, enjoying authentic French cuisine, cooked to order and prepared with love.

My boyfriend is an inspiring chef who recently returned to school for a degree in culinary arts and he listened to most of this book along with me (which isn't at all typical behavior for him) and he was completely captivated by all the references to food preparation and cooking and all the detailed descriptions of French meals and the ingredients included to make them, as was I.

Overall, this book was an absolute joy and I feel I must give credit not only to the author, but also to the talented narrator, Mishandled Marino, who did a wonderful job giving voice to these three-dimensional, complex, characters and really bringing the story to life. The only complaint I have is a very minor one and more of a technical issue then one with the writing itself and that is that I felt like the narration speed was extremely slow and I would have liked the narrator to pick up the pace significantly because at times it felt like it was being read in slow motion to me. However, after a while I was able to adjust, somewhat, but I normally get my audio books from Audible, where I have the option of adjusting the narration speed and I normally set it to x1.5 or x2, when listening. But again, that is just a personal preference and, of course, no fault of the authors so it did not affect my ratings for this book to which I happily gave five out of five stars! I highly recommend this book, especially to those readers who enjoy beautifully descriptive writing, art lovers, or "foodies."
Bon appéti!

I received a complimentary copy of 'Cooking for Picasso' from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
( )
  JordanAshleyPerkins | Jan 26, 2017 |
This is the story about two women of the same family, living in different times and separate continents, who are connected by blood in history. The narration alternates between 17-year-old Ondine, a cook at her family's café in a small town on the French Riviera in 1936, and Celine, Ondine's granddaughter, who lives in present day California and learns from her ailing mother that Grandma Ondine once cooked exclusively for the great and notorious Picasso. With her mother's health in rapid decline, Celine finds herself traveling to the small town of Juan-les-Pins, France, in hopes to uncover the mysteries of her family's history and determine what part the great painter, if any, played in her grandmother Ondine's life and legacy.

This was my first introduction to author, Camille Aubray, and I was pleased to find she is an absolutely exquisite writer. I listened to the audio version of 'Cooking for Picasso' on CD and it was such a beautiful and relaxing experience that I was truly sad when the book was over. I primarily listen to audiobooks while driving in my car and I found myself purposefully taking longer routes and remaining in my vehicle even after reaching my destination in order to continue listening to this eloquent novel. Aubray's descriptive style and attention to detail made me feel like I was on holiday in the French Riviera, at a café in a little seaside village, enjoying authentic French cuisine, cooked to order and prepared with love.

My boyfriend is an inspiring chef who recently returned to school for a degree in culinary arts and he listened to most of this book along with me (which isn't at all typical behavior for him) and he was completely captivated by all the references to food preparation and cooking and all the detailed descriptions of French meals and the ingredients included to make them, as was I.

Overall, this book was an absolute joy and I feel I must give credit not only to the author, but also to the talented narrator, Mishandled Marino, who did a wonderful job giving voice to these three-dimensional, complex, characters and really bringing the story to life. The only complaint I have is a very minor one and more of a technical issue then one with the writing itself and that is that I felt like the narration speed was extremely slow and I would have liked the narrator to pick up the pace significantly because at times it felt like it was being read in slow motion to me. However, after a while I was able to adjust, somewhat, but I normally get my audio books from Audible, where I have the option of adjusting the narration speed and I normally set it to x1.5 or x2, when listening. But again, that is just a personal preference and, of course, no fault of the authors so it did not affect my ratings for this book to which I happily gave five out of five stars! I highly recommend this book, especially to those readers who enjoy beautifully descriptive writing, art lovers, or "foodies."
Bon appéti!

I received a complimentary copy of 'Cooking for Picasso' from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. ( )
  JordanAshleyPerkins | Jan 10, 2017 |
Ondine, a seventeen year old, works for her family’s café in the French Riviera. When her family is hired to provide meals to Picasso, Ondine realizes that she doesn’t have to be trapped by her family and societies limitations. In the present day, Celine, Ondine’s granddaughter, travels to France to uncover the mysteries surrounding Ondine’s life.

I thought this was a well written and interesting book. Ondine was a fascinating character. I did think the plot was a bit predictable, but the characters were compelling enough to keep me reading. I would like to read more from this author. Overall, well worth picking up and reading. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Nov 22, 2016 |
2.5

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. Both women are weak and not very likeable. Celine, the main character in 2016, cannot even stand up to her step siblings and lets them ferry her own mother away (step mother to the step siblings) with hardly a word and no action. Meanwhile she goes to France with her aunt on a trip the sick mother was supposed to take. Huh?! Meanwhile back in the 1930’s, Ondine vacillates between being free spirited as she engages in a relationship (if you can call it that) with Picasso and silly and lacking a backbone.

Another part of the story that did not ring true for me was the dialogue between Picasso and Ondine. It was awkward and stilted, and I just can’t believe he spoke that way. Picasso was not portrayed kindly, and that viewpoint I did find more realistic. He struggled in his personal life, and the author portrays this accurately.

I am sorry I did not like this book more. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read it in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  cburnett5 | Nov 12, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399177655, Hardcover)

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 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: Céline, 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, Céline 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, Céline 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.

Advance praise for Cooking for Picasso

“Intrigue, art, food, and deception are woven together in a tale of love and betrayal around the life and legacy of Picasso. Touching and true, this well-written narrative made me long for my mother’s coq au vin and for the sun of Juan-les-Pins.”—Jacques Pépin, chef, TV personality, author

“Camille Aubray has created a vividly imagined tale of a young French woman’s life-changing encounter with the most unconventional artist of the modern age. Intriguing and insightful, the sensory details alone will have you thinking you’re reading the pages seated at a seaside café in the South of France.”—Susan Meissner, author of Secrets of a Charmed Life

“Takes the reader on a heartfelt journey to the South of France . . . In prose that is wise, atmospheric, and plain fun, Aubray expertly blends fact and fiction to create a rich and memorable tale.”—Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment

“Aubray brings Picasso brilliantly to life. Her intriguing intertwined narratives are utterly spellbinding and deeply touching—as rare as a page-turner with soul.”—Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Sisterhood and Juliet

“A warm and spicy combination of art, family intrigue, food, and romance, set in sun-drenched Provence.”—Erica Bauermeister, bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 26 Jun 2016 22:52:09 -0400)

"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 C?ote 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."--… (more)

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