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Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe
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Chez Moi (2007)

by Agnes Desarthe

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English (5)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 5 of 5
Chez Moi is the story of Myriam, forty-three, who opens a restaurant in Paris. She has no idea how to run a restaurant, but has a love for cooking. As she struggles to run the restaurant, we also see her struggling to come to terms with her past, which we find out about in little pieces throughout the novel. As she continues to infuse her dishes with her love, Myriam begins to heal herself and find a second chance at life and love as she reconnects with her family after a six year absence or exile.

I think the novel is a wonderful character study of Myriam as she struggles to find herself once again and to realize herself as a mother, a friend, and a lover. Desarthe has such an interesting way with description; her descriptions are often lush and rich but at times can be quick and sparse. She does an excellent job of connecting the flow and the length of the sentences to the mood. When Myriam is frantic or upset, Desarthe's sentences are often short and come in quick, punches, emphasizing a sharp emotion. When Myriam is reflective and dreaming or hopeful, the sentences flow gently like breeze across the page.

The part of Myriam's character that I find most intriguing and compelling is her "traveling library" a selection of thirty-three books that she has shelved and displayed in her restaurant. She calls them her "traveling library" because they were the books that she selected to bring with her six years before when her husband (now ex) ordered her to exile herself. It's an eclectic collection ranging from The Sorrows of Young Werther to The Wild Palms to Kingdoms of Elfin and Alice In Wonderland. As the novel progresses, Myriam often pulls out a text and reads a small passage, and as readers we learn as much about Myriam from her reading habits as we do her reflections on her past and her interaction with those who come into her restaurant here in her present. ( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 17, 2016 |
Chez Moi is the story of Myriam, forty-three, who opens a restaurant in Paris. She has no idea how to run a restaurant, but has a love for cooking. As she struggles to run the restaurant, we also see her struggling to come to terms with her past, which we find out about in little pieces throughout the novel. As she continues to infuse her dishes with her love, Myriam begins to heal herself and find a second chance at life and love as she reconnects with her family after a six year absence or exile.

I think the novel is a wonderful character study of Myriam as she struggles to find herself once again and to realize herself as a mother, a friend, and a lover. Desarthe has such an interesting way with description; her descriptions are often lush and rich but at times can be quick and sparse. She does an excellent job of connecting the flow and the length of the sentences to the mood. When Myriam is frantic or upset, Desarthe's sentences are often short and come in quick, punches, emphasizing a sharp emotion. When Myriam is reflective and dreaming or hopeful, the sentences flow gently like breeze across the page.

The part of Myriam's character that I find most intriguing and compelling is her "traveling library" a selection of thirty-three books that she has shelved and displayed in her restaurant. She calls them her "traveling library" because they were the books that she selected to bring with her six years before when her husband (now ex) ordered her to exile herself. It's an eclectic collection ranging from The Sorrows of Young Werther to The Wild Palms to Kingdoms of Elfin and Alice In Wonderland. As the novel progresses, Myriam often pulls out a text and reads a small passage, and as readers we learn as much about Myriam from her reading habits as we do her reflections on her past and her interaction with those who come into her restaurant here in her present. ( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 16, 2016 |
What a beautifully written story with such carefully chosen words. This was reminiscent of Nabokov for me - the guilt and penitence filled with beauty and innocent longing, this time from a woman's perspective. Truely Myriam is tortured by her past, giving up her family, and living from a suitcase for over half a decade, even turning to that fabled circus life for a time. Redemption, if it ever comes, takes the form of her restaurant, Chez Moi, the "house of me," with walls lined with her most cherished books, where she bathes in her own kitchen's sink. With metaphors and forgiveness, she finds peace in nourishing the souls that most need her through cooking. Exquisite details of recipes and longing, this story, though short, serves up a slice of humanity at it's best and worst, like a delicious wedge of key lime pie: sour and sweet and intoxicating to the very end.
  EmThomas | Dec 7, 2010 |
I really liked this quirky french novel. The previous review gives a good synopsis of the plot. It is about somebody trying to get their life together after a disappointing marriage which ended in a traumatic event after which the heroine loses everything including her self respect. Her only faith in herself is her cooking through which she gradually rebuilds her life with a little help from her friends. It's amusing, fthe food is good with out being precious about it and it's well written. ( )
  CommonReeda | May 4, 2009 |
I'm not sure if I liked this book. The writing was good, I could see the characters and the situations but the main character, Myriam was very confused and annoying. She is trying to rebuild her life after a traumatic event and the beginning of the story is cluttered and rambling. Perhaps there is some sort of history of mental illness? If not for the guiding hand of strangers who knows where she would have ended up.

I don't think I would have finished the book if it had been longer and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. ( )
  cal8769 | Oct 30, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Agnes Desartheprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hunter, AdrianaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Dante
To my friends, for whom I love to cook, and to Claude, at Le Passage.
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Am I a liar?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143113232, Paperback)

At forty-three, Myriam has been a wife, mother, and lover—but never a restauranteur. When she opens Chez Moi in a quiet neighborhood in Paris, she has no idea how to run a business, but armed only with her love of cooking, she is determined to try. Barely able to pay the rent, Myriam secretly sleeps in the dining room and bathes in the kitchen sink, while struggling to come to terms with the painful memories of her past. But soon enough her delectable cuisine brings her many neighbors to Chez Moi, and Myriam finds that she may get a second chance at life and love. Redolent with the sights, smells, and tastes of Paris, Chez Moi is a charming story that will appeal to the many readers who fell in love with Joanne Harris’s Chocolat and Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:00 -0400)

"At forty-three, Myriam has been a wife, a mother, and a lover, but never a restauranteur. When she opens Chez Moi, she has no idea how to run a business, she knows only how to cook. Barely able to pay rent, she lives in her sparse restaurant while struggling to come to terms with her troubled past. In time, her delectable cuisine brings her many neighbors to Chez Moi, and with their help Myriam realizes that she may get a second chance at life and love after all."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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