Sunday, November 13, 2016
Book Review: the Book of Salt
OK; so confession time---I thought this was a book about cooking & such, which it is, but not really. It's really the story of a Vietnamese cook hired by Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas. It's 1930s Paris & one of the most popular figures of the day; Gertrude Stein (not Gertrude or Miss Stein, always Gertrude Stein) needs a new personal chef for the household, & outcast Bihn applies for the job. He is told before entering the household that the ladies of the house are "different." After being interviewed, he is hired for the position & tells the story of his adventures & observations of the unique & intriguing lives of these two polarizing historical figures.
Overall, I enjoyed the book; if you like historical fiction, you will probably enjoy it. There are a lot of overlying social issues, but I didn't feel like the author hit your over the head with them; which was nice. I really enjoyed the quirky/crazy relationship between Gertrude Stein & Toklas--it was quite endearing, really : ) One of my favorite parts of the book was when they were visiting a country estate for the summer & Bihn went out visiting the neighboring farms, where they very graciously fed him many drinks... He stumbled back to the household afterwards, & passed out in the kitchen where they found him the next morning, hahaha. They put him to bed & said not a word about it when he resumed work the next morning.
This book is probably not for everyone: it's about a lesbian couple in the 30s, but that's not really the focus of the story. Well worth reading & not an overly long novel: I would say 3.75 out of 5 stars : )