146 x 224 x 35mm
Enchanting and original, here is a literary gem of compelling themes and page-turning quality. The lives of three women intersect in this delicate and surprising novel about memory and loss, displacement and deliverance, prejudice and unrequited love - not to mention literature and cooking as cures for heartbreak.
Their stories criss-cross between Paris in the 1890s at the height of the Dreyfus affair, France in 1941, and present-day Canada. Marie Prevost, the narrator, is a contemporary Canadian who sets off for Paris to research Proust and escape a failed romance . . . finding instead Mme Proust's "unpublished diary" in the archives.
Sarah Bensimon is a young Parisian Jew whose parents spirit her out of occupied France, and who ends up on the far side of the world, in Toronto. Marrying into an orthodox family, she takes refuge in her kitchen, recreating a kosher version of classic French cuisine.
The third woman is Madame Jeanne Proust herself, fragments of whose "diaries" are recreated with irresistible, impeccably researched detail - as this Jewish mother worries about Marcel, his late-night habits, his diet, his unsuitable friends, and about the Dreyfus affair, which she observes with rather different eyes from those around her.
All these strands are brought poignantly and satisfyingly together - the new world and the old, the Seine and the St Lawrence, mothers and sons, outsiders and insiders - in this intelligent and beautifully judged debut novel.