From Publishers Weekly
Stewart's whimsical debut (originally published on Twitter as 3,700 tweets) finds vague inspiration in the French Revolution and begins in 1989 when former pastry chef Esmerelda Van Twinkle, through a series of wacky events and coincidences, becomes involved with a coupon vender named Jasper Winslow. They have two kids--Marat and Robespierre--and after Jasper disappears, Esmerelda and the kids move in with her drunken mother, whose house has been "in boiled suspension" since her husband disappeared at sea. Despite an unpleasant stay, Esmerelda's kids are smart and determined: they put their obese mother on a diet and make their own way in the world--Robespierre in politics; Marat in the criminal underworld, then the military, and later back to the first. From Esmerelda's return to kitchen glory to Robespierre's serendipitous series of political victories, everything works out just fine. Esmerelda isn't wrong when she says that her family has gone from "ruffians to royalty in the blink of a decade," but Stewart would have done his characters and readers a favor by making the trip a bit rockier.
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First released as a series of roughly 3,700 tweets on Twitter (@thefrenchrev), Stewart’s zany debut cleverly reimagines the central events of the French Revolution in a thrilling novel that explores the meaning of success and the unlikely bonds that unite a family. On Bastille Day, 1989, Esmeralda Van Twinkle, once San Francisco’s reigning pastry chef but now a morbidly obese copy shop manager, gives birth to twins Robespierre and Marat after an impetuous love affair with Jasper Winslow, a genial coupon distributor. When Jasper mysteriously disappears, Esmeralda is forced to move in with Fanny, her lonely, tyrannical mother. As the twins become teens and Fanny’s demands become intolerable, they rebel, Robespierre turning to education and social reform; Marat to pot, pranks, and fighting in the Middle East; while together they seek to help Esmeralda restore her dignity and former charisma. Deep-cutting and full of cartoonish surprises, Stewart’s hilariously bawdy satire casts fresh light in a dark corner of the past while portraying a family whose members have somehow survived history. Now, if only they can endure each other. --Jonathan Fullmer