The Last Banquet
You know that feeling when you think of something that’s just… well… your chest expands with the emotion of how much you loved it? That is the feeling I get when I think of how to describe The Last Banquet.
We meet Jean-Marie, sitting in front of the dung heap of his family farm, catching (and eating) beetles – whose taste is so lovingly described that I almost want to try one. His parents are asleep – he’s not to disturb them (say the peasants who have passed him by as they looted the home for the past several days). The arrival of a retinue of French nobles sees Jean-Marie introduced to the transcendent (thanks, Lisa Simpson) taste of Roquefort, and then whisked away to a school for impoverished nobles where he forges his first, and lifelong, friendship, continues his love affair with taste, and has his first experience of young love. The novel then feels like a roller-coaster – military school, two more friendships that will shape his life in years to come, a beautiful Duke’s daughter… and all the while, experimenting with and journalling the tastes he experiences along the way.
Jean-Marie’s life takes him from the glittering but foul-smelling splendour of Versailles to the would-be democracy of Corsica, and back again to the simmering cauldron of pre-revolutionary France. His democratic bent and passion for sustainable food sources sees him correspond with Voltaire, experiment with potato crops (completely unappreciated by the peasantry!) and make the acquaintance of Ben Franklin. To elaborate more would give away the intricacies of Jean-Marie’s amazing life. Suffice it to say, this is a book which will not disappoint those with a passion for food, politics or history. Enjoy!
The Last Banquet is out in August 2013.
Guest blogger: Amelia, National Merchandise Manager and Co-op Member since 2013.