Cooking For Picasso by Camille Aubray
Book Review: 2 out of 5 stars
This book is a complete imagining of what might have transpired during a short period of Picasso’s life. It’s true that Picasso took some time away from society in Paris in the spring of 1936. He anonymously rented a villa in the French Riviera. He was going through some nasty marital problems (having a mistress didn’t help there) and he hadn’t been able to paint for months but that spring he was able to paint again. Most of Picasso’s paintings referenced in the book are real except for one.
I had so believed that I would love this book. I find the art world a fascinating one and love to read about France. And French cooking – what’s not to love? But I should have known better. I know the reputation Picasso has and feel rather dumb for thinking this would be a charming book actually about cooking for Picasso. Sure, the main character, Ondine, did cook for him but their relationship didn’t stop there. He was 54 and she was only 17. I felt so let down when the story took this turn. It felt far too obvious to me and I had hoped that this would be a different type of book. Apparently, cooking for Picasso = modeling for Picasso = sleeping with Picasso. What else is a young girl to do being around such a great artist? Ho hum.
Of course, there’s much more to the story than that. There’s also the story of Ondine’s granddaughter, Celine, who, when she learns that her grandmother once cooked for Picasso, decides to visit the place where Picasso and Ondine met, sort out a fight for an inheritance and search for a possibly missing painting. And there are lovely descriptions of France and its cooking. But although parts of the book were in fact as charming as I had thought they would be, it wasn’t enough to save this one for me.
I did enjoy looking at the photos on the author’s website at http://www.camilleaubray.com of the places that inspired some of the locations in her book.
This audio book was given to me by the publisher through Blogging for Books in return for an honest review.