Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray
A Novel

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Aubray’s prose is workmanlike, but occasionally lured into overdone lyrical patches, as when she describes Ondine listening to the rain...
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For readers of Paula McLain, Nancy Horan, and Melanie Benjamin, this captivating novel is inspired by a little-known interlude in the artist’s life.

The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron who’s slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request—to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he’s secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.

Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life—and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family’s authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.

New York, present day: Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist who’s come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother’s enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Céline carries out Julie’s wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future.

Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera’s most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France, Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre.

Advance praise for Cooking for Picasso

“Intrigue, art, food, and deception are woven together in a tale of love and betrayal around the life and legacy of Picasso. Touching and true, this well-written narrative made me long for my mother’s coq au vin and for the sun of Juan-les-Pins.”—Jacques Pépin, chef, TV personality, author

“Camille Aubray has created a vividly imagined tale of a young French woman’s life-changing encounter with the most unconventional artist of the modern age. Intriguing and insightful, the sensory details alone will have you thinking you’re reading the pages seated at a seaside café in the South of France.”—Susan Meissner, author of Secrets of a Charmed Life

“Takes the reader on a heartfelt journey to the South of France . . . In prose that is wise, atmospheric, and plain fun, Aubray expertly blends fact and fiction to create a rich and memorable tale.”—Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment

“Aubray brings Picasso brilliantly to life. Her intriguing intertwined narratives are utterly spellbinding and deeply touching—as rare as a page-turner with soul.”—Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Sisterhood and Juliet

“A warm and spicy combination of art, family intrigue, food, and romance, set in sun-drenched Provence.”—Erica Bauermeister, bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients

About Camille Aubray

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CAMILLE AUBRAY is an Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship winner and was a finalist for the Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award and the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. She has written four previous novels under the pseudonym of C.A. Belmond: A Rather Lovely Inheritance, A Rather Curious Engagement, A Rather Charming Invitation, and A Rather Remarkable Homecoming. After attending the University of London, Aubray was chosen for Margaret Atwood’s master class at the Humber Writer’s College Writers’ Workshop. She has been a staff writer for the soap operas One Life to Live and Capitol, has taught writing at New York University, and has written and produced for ABC News, PBS and A&E. She divides her time between Connecticut and the South of France.
Author Residence: Wilton, CT
Author Hometown: Wilton, CT
Published August 9, 2016 by Ballantine Books. 402 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Aug 10 2016

Aubray’s prose is workmanlike, but occasionally lured into overdone lyrical patches, as when she describes Ondine listening to the rain...

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