Booknote: Youth and Food

This week I have two books to recommend.  One is serious and to be savored, the other fun and a quick read.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  This is a magnificent book, and that’s an adjective I seldom, if ever, use to describe a novel.  Two parallel stories, two lives, one of a blind French girl, the other a foster German boy who is taken up by the Nazis, lives which you know must converge eventually.  And they do.  But getting there is long and detailed and sometimes painful.  Like a deck of cards cut and then re-cut and stacked, the chapters are brief, sometimes only a page, and occasionally out of order in time and then layered and re-layered until the inevitable meeting. For natural history buffs, the depiction of the Paris Jardin des Plantes is an added delight.  The book is long–500 pages–and demands to be read slowly.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl.  A complete change of pace, this is a foodie’s treat and an ugly-duckling-becomes-swan tale all in one.  I thought this might be just a frothy confection, but Reichl knows how to tell a good story.  From the thinly disguised Gourmet magazine (here known as Delicious!), to Sal’s marvelous shop doling out cheese and cheer, to James Beard as a character, there is mystery, friendship and enough good food to send you to the kitchen.  Just plain fun!

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