4 Engrossing Novels to Dive into for May Holidays

A captivating journey through the heart of Bardot, the fabulous destiny of the Kennedy's cook, another adventurous novel by Erri de Luca, the biographies of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano making waves in the United States... As the sun timidly emerges, it's time to grab a bench in a lovely park and devour the latest great novels. The literary gems of the moment are right here!


The Ideal Cook of the Kennedy Clan

Great Read: La cuisinière des Kennedy by Valérie Paturaud

Synopsis: "To Andrée, with love and gratitude. The Kennedy Family". This homage adorns the wreath placed on Andrée Imbert's grave in a small cemetery in Vaucluse. Who was this woman? Abandoned on the steps of a church, entrusted to public assistance and then to farmers, the young girl had a chaotic start to life that could hardly predict the destiny awaiting her. In the Provençal Drôme, amidst a kitchen fragrant with thyme, savory, and oregano, the young girl learns the pleasures of authentic, family cooking. Later, in Lyon, she hones her skills in a more sophisticated cuisine. Thus begins a grand culinary adventure...

Behind every important family hides a talented cook. The Kennedy's Cook follows the American dream of this young Frenchwoman who, thanks to her culinary talent, worked for the greatest: the Lumière brothers, Albert Camus, the Gallimard family, and the Kennedys. It's within the clan that she experiences her best years, accompanying them through the good and the bad.

Why You'll Love It: "You'll only have the luck you seek", writes Andrée Imbert in a letter to her grandson Alain. Through thorough research and the help of her grandchildren, Valérie Paturaud (Nézida) paints the portrait of this extraordinary woman. Courage, perseverance, hard work, generosity... The true nature of this cook shines effortlessly through the author's delicate writing. The cherry on top? The delicious story is punctuated with recipes from Andrée Imbert's personal notebook, as well as private photographs and some of her written exchanges with the Kennedy family.


A Love Letter to BB

Great Read: Mes nuits sans Bardot by Simonetta Greggio

Synopsis: "They thought they knew me because they saw me naked. No one knows who I really am." When the narrator settles in Saint-Tropez, near La Madrague, she is determined to unravel the mystery of Brigitte Bardot. Every night, the same ritual: she walks to Bardot's house, whose doors remain closed. So, she leaves a letter under a stone by her door, just to ensure that BB is still there, with her dogs and memories. Far from ignoring her, the actress collects the letters, reads them, and revisits her own life.

Colette, Roger Vadim, Marilyn Monroe, Marguerite Yourcenar, Brando, Trintignant, and Serge Gainsbourg... Great artistic figures appear, memories intertwine: men, love, fidelity, motherhood, cinema, withdrawal with animals, and the right to oblivion. The scoop? Exclusivity is set aside in favor of solid documentation, of facts that build this epistolary novel and paint the portrait of this endearing woman.

Why You'll Love It: Simonetta Greggio, known for La Douceur des hommes and La Dolce Vita, finalist for the Renaudot Prize, delivers a story of great accuracy and gives Bardot what is rightfully hers. As a producer for France Culture of documentaries on Virginia Woolf, Elsa Morante, and Mussolini, this isn't the first time the author has attempted to portray a personality. One might think everything has been said about Brigitte Bardot, and yet... Her relevance, her wit, her modernity, and that mythical freedom that make her exist, to whom Simonetta Greggio pays a touching tribute.


A Grand Novel Rocked by the Wind and Sea Spray

Great Read: Cézembre by Hélène Gestern

Synopsis: Yann de Kerambrun comes from a line of Breton industrialists specializing in maritime transport. Approaching fifty, after a divorce and the death of his father, he leaves his position as a history professor at the Sorbonne to settle in the family home in Saint-Malo. Facing the mysterious island of Cézembre, and amidst a life now governed by the tides, Yann delves into the archives of his great-grandfather Octave.

Diaries, notes, photographs, letters... numerous old memories gradually reveal the secrets of his family. His research eventually leads him to a murder, a century-old cold case. By opening the doors to his past, by discovering the torments and flaws of this family legend, Yann hopes to find himself. The mysterious and captivating story of this family over three generations is strangely intertwined with that of a seemingly insignificant small island: Cézembre. Brilliant!

Why You'll Love It: Hélène Gestern had already shone in the past with the delightful novel 555, which told the adventurous fate of a previously unknown composition by Domenico Scarlatti. There is no need to prove her talent, and yet... The author delivers here a dazzling family saga punctuated by sublime writing, both tender, sensitive, and poetic. Memory and its consequences on the present, the melancholy of mourning, the quest for truth, the power of memory and love, but also the taste for archives, the decoding of photographs, family secrets... All the themes dear to the writer intertwine delicately to form a narrative of great quality.

And Also...

Great read: Sur l’île by Elizabeth O'Connor

On this small isolated island in Wales, where twelve families, a few sheep, and a handful of lobsters coexist, lives Manod, a young girl in search of a larger life. The discovery of a beached whale and the arrival of two English ethnographers hoping to study the island culture proves to be an opportunity, both for a glimpse of life outside her community and as a means of escape. From poems to Celtic chants, from drawings to embroideries, the work is titanic to do justice to the social fabric of this community. Loss, isolation, the folklore of a life rocked by the whims of nature... Elizabeth O'Connor skillfully addresses the life of this community, delivering a poetic debut novel of extraordinary delicacy!

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