Friday, May 30, 2014

Best of May: Joie de Vivre!

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932
Francine Prose

This novel is intoxicating.  Seriously, do not operate any heavy machinery until you are done reading it, which is probably sound advice for life anyway.  Lovers at the Chameleon Club is historical fiction at its most exuberant.  The story of Lou Villars, told through multiple accounts, goes from her debut as a cross-dressing nightclub act to a controversial race car driver to a brutal interrogator for the Gestapo, and takes the reader from the libertine Paris of the 20s, through the depression in the 1930s, and finally into world war.  Along the way we are acquainted with an unforgettable cast of storytelling characters: the powerful but resigned Baroness Lily de Rossignol; caustic American writer Lionel Maine; brilliant Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi and his brave partner Suzanne, teacher and member of the French Resistance, and Yvonne, owner of the Chameleon Club, a refuge as well as a nightclub.

My Paris Kitchen
David Lebovitz

Food blogger David Lebovitz packed up and moved to Paris 10 years ago and this gorgeous book is the result.  Besides 100 recipes to tempt every palate, written in clear, concise instructions even feeble cooks such as myself can proclaim "totally doable", he delights us with stories about life and dining in Paris as an American expat, (like figuring out how and when to serve rosé and the French relationship with air-conditioning) and lush, dreamy photography to compliment the text.  The recipes are modern French classics with an international twist here and there.  You'll find a cassoulet and coc au vin, as well as duck fat cookies and a croque-monsieur (fried ham and cheese sandwich with creamy bread sauce) that I can't wait to try.  

C'est magnifique!

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