White Truffles in Winter by N. M. Kelby
A Novel

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Synopsis

“Rich in sensory delights . . . the kind of masterpiece readers will want to savor.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune


Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) was the unparalleled French chef whose impact on restaurants and high cuisine is still with us. He was also a complicated man—kind yet imperious, food obsessed yet rarely hungry, capable of great passion and inscrutable reserve. In this lushly imagined new novel, N. M. Kelby transports us into Escoffier’s private world, weaving a sensual story of food and longing, war and romance.


The novel opens near the end of Escoffier’s life, as he writes his memoirs. He has witnessed a tumultuous sweep of history from a unique position, and he recounts his days as a cook in the Franco-Prussian War, a chef for the beau monde in Paris and at the London’s Savoy, and a confidant of royalty and world leaders.


The heart of Escoffier’s story, however, lies in his love for two very different women: the famously beautiful and reckless actress Sarah Bernhardt, one of the most adored women of her day, and his wife, the independent and sublime poet Delphine Daffis, whose hand in marriage Escoffier gambled for, only to live apart from her for much of his career.


Now Escoffier has retired and returned to Delphine. She requests just one thing: that he produce a dish in her name as he has done for so many, including Bernhardt and Queen Victoria. Yet how does one re-create the complexity of love in a single recipe? The great chef has no idea. Aided by a headstrong young cook who looks remarkably like Bernhardt, Escoffier must rediscover food’s emotional capacity, its ability to communicate passion, regret, grief, forgiveness, and love.

 

About N. M. Kelby

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N. M. Kelby is the critically acclaimed author of In the Company of Angels, Whale Season, and the Florida Book Award winner A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts, among other works. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
 
Published November 7, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 347 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for White Truffles in Winter

Kirkus Reviews

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From Kelby (Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar and Grill, 2008, etc.), a fictional biography of the pioneering French chef Auguste Escoffier full of luscious details about his methods, both of cooking and seduction.

Oct 18 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Publishers Weekly

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Delphine Daffis is dying, and she wants her husband, French chef August Escoffier (famous for his restaurants, the Savoy and the Ritz), to create a dish named after her, as he has done for his lover, Sara Bernhardt, and countless others, even Queen Victoria.

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Star Tribune

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Witty, delightful, and so detailed you can taste it.

Nov 05 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Book Reporter

She implores their new cook, Sabine (who bears a striking resemblance to Bernhardt and whose humble French peasant cooking is at odds with Escoffier's more elevated tastes), to encourage Escoffier in this direction, but Escoffier's mind is focused on episodes from his past, particularly those inv...

Dec 08 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Christian Science Monitor

She's occasionally heavy-handed with her seasonings – adding too many over-sweetened sentences like "Only food can speak what the heart feels" – but this is generally counterbalanced by the tart freshness of her characters, chief among them her version of the chef himself.

Dec 02 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

BookPage

The novel is set in the last year of Escoffier’s life, in Monte Carlo, where he has retired and reunited with his wife after decades apart.

Nov 07 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Delphine dreams of "the first days of their marriage," when Escoffier commanded her to close her eyes -- because "Food demands complete submission" -- before placing "a perfect scallop in her mouth" and asking her, "Do you taste the sea?"

Nov 21 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Historical Novel Society

Famed French chef Auguste Escoffier loves his wife Delphine, despite being separated for the majority of their marriage.

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Historical Novel Society

As his life draws to its close, the legendary Auguste Escoffier, whose recipes and system for running a kitchen form the foundation of modern haute cuisine (not to mention the trials undergone by Masterchef competitors), sits down to write his memoirs.

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Macleans

But Delphine, who harbours resentment for the years Escoffier toiled away at the Ritz in Paris and the Carlton in London, not to mention her embarrassment over the scandal with Bernhardt, has an agenda: she wants Sabine to manipulate Escoffier into granting her immortality, by way of naming a dis...

Jan 11 2012 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

We Love This Book

White Truffles in Winter tells his story by reading between the lines, garnishing, gilding and topping with spun sugar to make a glorious confection which whilst not perhaps strictly accurate in every detail is in fact truer than the truth.

Sep 14 2012 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Fiction Writers Review

Kelby is the author of five previous books of fiction: A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts: Stories (Borealis Books, 2009), Murder at the Bad Girl’s Bar and Grill (Crown, 2008), Whale Season (Three Rivers Press, 2006), Theater of the Stars (Hyperion, 2003), and In the Company of Angels (Theia, 2001).

Nov 15 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Fiction Writers Review

Throughout their separation, he romances her though letters and gifts sent from a fictional “Mr. Boots” (actually Bernhardt’s jealous name for Lewis), and at the end, it is Delphine’s culinary spirit that he evokes in the final pages of his memoir, with an artist’s approach to mashed potatoes: T...

Nov 14 2011 | Read Full Review of White Truffles in Winter: A N...

Artswrap

White Truffles in Winter imagines the world of the remarkable French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who changed how we eat through his legendary restaurants at the Savoy and the Ritz.

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Reader Rating for White Truffles in Winter
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