A frothy, aromatic concoction of literary references to food, this first novel, although light on narrative, offers the delights of a dinner with a literate friend who is an able, quirky cook. Pomme Bouquin, the daughter of a famous chef in London, pines for a man named Jeremy. Having ``learned from cooking and literature that the finest seduction engages all the senses,'' Pomme peruses the works of Colette, D. H. Lawrence, Lord Byron and Flaubert, among others, to plan the meal that will win her Jeremy's heart. During the course(s) of their romance, Pomme plumbs literature for culinary comfort in periods of despair and rage (when she plans a menu of revenge). Readers are also treated to the slyly competitive correspondence between Pomme's father and a French chef seeking help with an important meal, and to articles written by Pomme for a food magazine (e.g., ``Company of Writers, Coffee, and the Literary Life''). Recipes from writers--English, French and a few Americans--abound in a narrative that, like some broths, is both flavorsome and thin. In her toothsome, sometimes tongue-in-cheek tale, Deval, who is director of publicity at Villard, sieves the literary canon to assign flavor and bite to the emotions of love. (Nov.)
In this curious synthesis of fiction, love, and food, Deval displays a commanding knowledge of literature in her first novel. Ostensibly, the story is about Pomme, a contemporary young woman and enthusiastic cook living in Paris and writing for the magazine Culture and Cuisine. As the story begins, she is concocting seductive feasts for her lover, Jeremy. Later, scorned by him, Pomme plots her revenge by devising a menu of unusual food laced with poison. The book also contains famous writers' commentaries on food and theories on subjects like the emergence and literary importance of coffeehouses and why the food in Britain is so bad. Confusingly, the narrator changes to Pomme's American lover, then to Jeremy, about midway through the book. The plot is thin, and historical recipes abound. While the concept is intriguing, the writing is cerebral and dry. This book will have a hard time finding the right audience.-- Kimberly G. Allen, MCI Corporate Information Resources Ctr., Washington, D . C.