I’ve been languishing on the French Riviera for the past two days enjoying the countryside and the characters in COOKING FOR PICASSO, by Camille Aubray.
If this cover doesn’t draw you in I don’t know what will.
It’s 1936 and springtime in the south of France. Ondine is seventeen and suffering the loss of her fiancee. He’s gone off to war and she’s not heard from him since. She’s ready to give up. Her family owns and operates a cafe in the little seaside village of Juan les Pins and has other plans for her future. Ondine is helping out this summer by delivering lunch to a stranger who’s rented the villa at the top of the hill. He’s very mysterious and keeps to himself.
Pablo Picasso is escaping from Paris and two women: one is his wife; the other his lover. This part of the story is true. And no one really knows much about this spring and summer he spent on the Riviera. He did stay incognito. He loved wearing disguise and sneaking out among the unsuspecting villagers.
Now meet Celine. It’s present day. Celine is a young woman living in California. She’s on a mission to go to the Cote d’ Azur with her aunt to a cooking class. Why is she doing this when she doesn’t even like to cook? Her mother is too ill to make the trip. And the ticket is there and all paid up. Plus, there’s some important secret stuff to discover. You see her grandmother Ondine had plenty of secrets. Could she have actually owned a Picasso? And Celine is making it her business to get to the bottom of all of this. And, after all,
The scenery is lush and colorful. The characters are even more lush and colorful. And the story is light and entertaining as well as mysterious and fun. Picasso is portrayed just as I would imagine him. He’s a devil. A womanizer. He’s relentless. And yet he’s fun. Have you seen his work? You would have to know that.
Add a love interest in the form of a Hell’s Kitchen type of chef. The mob both in France and in America. What a hoot.
It took me some time to get into this book. But once I did I was involved. And enjoyed the ride. So put your apron on, sharpen your knives, and hold on. You’re in for a treat.
My gorgeous finished copy came from the generous publishing people at Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. It’s just great!