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Stems from a single obsession the pursuit of the perfect taste Three Snake Bouillabaisse Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feastBut beyond the palace walls revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kin. I LOVED this book On a superficial level perhaps I love it because the central character is obsessed with taste; he wants to know the taste of everything He devises recipes for all manner of unlikely ingredients from cat to flamingo tongues But it's not really just about taste is it It's about hunger and a need to experience the new The book is set in France in the years leading up to the Revolution We first meet the central character when he is a child sitting on a dung heap so hungry that he eats beetles But he rises to become a nobleman living in a chateau with a menagerie of wild animals discarded from the zoo at Versailles

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The Last BanuetJean Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things Orphan soldier diplomat spy lover And chefThis is his storyWe meet Jean Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy Despite his frugal roots and than. Book gifted by The Reading Room for reviewThe Last Banuet is the life story of Jean Marie Charles d’Aumout It is a magical tale that weaves through the decadent years of the French aristocracy to the revolution that saw thousands of people of privilege meet a bloody end Jean Marie might be from nobility but through the wonderfully descriptive writing you get a sense of him never losing his ties to his childhood when he was rescued after his parents' death This becomes apparently clear when he is summoned to Versailles at the invitation of the king He sees the palace for what it really is a filthy but decadent cage that keeps its subject prisoner even if they do not realise it Through his eyes you see all in the world that is supposed to represent luxury and wealth as disappointing and falling short of the mark As his childhood friends make their mark in the world of influence Jean Marie is happy to take a wife and raise children but the death of his first wife and his appointment as Master of the Menageries on order from the King changes his view on the world He becomes determined to find that perfect taste His pet tiger becomes his constant companion and he realises in his last moments of life maybe she was the only one he truly loved It took me a while to get into the story even though it moved along at a great pace I preserved and I am glad I did Once you get over the main character Jean Marie's appetite for the weird and at times exotic tastes you settle into a story of a man whose life has lead him on a journey of adventure and forever in search of the perfect taste The characters that support Jean Marie are beautifully described their relationship with the main character are at times vexing but all add a magic of their own giving him a depth and realness Some see him as a pompous French man of means but to me he is a simple man that wants very little in life but through no fault of his own life takes him in directions he would not have chosen for himself if left to his own devices As I sit back and absorb this very different and interesting life story I feel a sadness for Jean Marie even though he lived a full and happy life there is such a sadness when he realises that his life is over and there is nothing that can be done to help him In those last moments my heart went out to him and I finally understood the meaning behind the title for me at least it was an I finally get it momentWhilst I understand this tale will not be to everyone's taste yes pun intended I believe it is worth giving it a try

Jonathan Grimwood ¶ 1 READ

READ ä The Last Banuet ✓ Jean Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things Orphan soldier diplomat spy lover And chefThis is his storyWe meet Jean Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy Despite his frugal roots and thanks tKs to it and courage in great measure he grows up to become a diplomat and spyRising through the ranks of eighteenth century French society he feasts with lords ladies and eventually kings at the Palace of Versailles itselfPassionate love political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean Marie’s life but his drive. Jonathan Grimwood is of course Jon Courtenay Grimwood SF author of The End of the World Blues among others I must say I was uite ambivalent about this It is intriguing and well written but just did not take fire for meGrimwood falls into the common trap of historical fiction and certain SF coming to think of it of deploying his main protagonist as a mouthpiece than a flesh and blood character as a means to explore a world in this case pre Revolution France and in particular Versailles and the King’s court The world building is the strongest aspect here with Grimwood having a painterly eye for detail imagery and sensuous descriptionUnfortunately throughout it all Jean Marie remains much of a cipher an onlooker in his own incredible journey from orphan to epicurean than a vital participant It would also have added much needed period heft to the novel if historical personages such as Voltaire and Maruis de Sade were not name dropped but appeared as flesh and blood charactersThis reminded me strongly of Pure by Andrew Miller I was curious as to how Grimwood would end the novel and must say I was uite pleased at the blend of elegiac horror and nostalgia he achieves It is only here at the bitter end where Jean Marie truly becomes alive Still this is a great novel from one of the genre’s most talented writers and fearless experimenters