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Fils du Feu

Books to read this Autumn - Solange's Choice

By Solange de La Page

Fils du feu, Guy Boley, Grasset

This novel opens on a forge, with a “concerto for anvils and hammers”. The forge master is the narrator’s father, a powerful god for his young son. The 5-year old kid grew in the provinces, in the '50s. On one side, a man’s world, made of fire and iron, of cranks and steam – the family lives near the steam engine depot. On the other side, women cooking, doing the laundry, taking care of the children, a simple life that the post-war economic boom and the consumer society will wipe out for ever. For the dazzled eyes of a kid who sees all that for the first time, the universe looks like moved by magic forces. A family tragedy will happen and change the course of the world, the young brother dies, and everyone will have to deal with an impossible mourning. 
Guy Boley has had all kinds of jobs before he writing his first novel.
Beautifully written.



La Cheffe, roman d’une cuisinière, Gallimard

You will feel straight away at the heart of the story with a narrator talking to someone remaining unknown –maybe a journalist or an author who wants to write a book about the “Cheffe”. The long spoken narrative is not cut into chapters. It is told with one stroke by a man who has worked with the cook and who loved her – hopelessly. Just as the cook's reputation starts to attract the well-to-do of Bordeaux to her restaurant, aged 18, he is hired as an apprentice.
He will spend his whole career with her and takes pride for only one thing “to have got to know the Cheffe better than anyone else”. He was her unique trusted friend. It is therefore through the lens of his loving eyes that we will get to know the Cheffe: “I want the Cheffe to be known as an admirable woman”. He was driven by the genuine wish to re-establish the truth. People were wrong about her. She liked to mislead people about her true nature. Cooking was everything in her life, but she refused to call it an art, she was bothered by compliments, and dedicated to ascetism and righteousness. Glory and fame came despite it all. Although she wanted to become well-known, and leave “a dazzling recollection” in her customers' memories. Just swap customers with readers and you can see in this beautiful portrait the one of the novelist herself.


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