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White Truffles in Winter: A Novel Paperback – October 8, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Kelby’s] descriptions of food are exquisitely detailed. She makes delicious drama out of acts as simple as Escoffier teaching his protégé how to make fried eggs. . . . Never less than entertaining, and just as often captivating.” (Boston Globe)

“Kelby’s descriptions of food are sublime, and her evocations of Paris, from artists’ spare studios to restaurants’ lavish dining rooms, delightful.” (St. Petersburg Times)

“Foodies will no doubt enjoy the lush epicurean treatment as well as the historical elements of the novel. . . . Ultimately this is a classic romance.” (BookPage, Top Fiction Pick)

“Beautifully layered and lovingly detailed, White Truffles in Winter is a tale of extraordinary people entangled in a captivating love story. Filled with lush and decadent longing, this novel will dazzle the mind as well as the senses.” (Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise: A Novel)

About the Author

N. M. Kelby is the critically acclaimed author of In the Company of Angels, Whale Season, and the Florida Book Award winner A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts, among other works. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393343588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393343588
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Corbett on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
You have to love this man with all his strengths and weaknesses. Such an imaginative book based on facts. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and all the rich, vivid details of place and food. Escoffier is an important historical figure. The main points are facts: where he lived and worked, his wife, his mistress, and more. The author deftly filled in what his life could have been based on known facts she researched. It's a fascinating story about an unusual man.

For those with culinary interests, there are intriguing food tidbits, but the story can be enjoyed by anyone. Culinary students learn about Escoffier's important contributions to the way we eat today but may know little about his personal life.

Escoffier's housekeeper in late life and many famous people of the time are prominent in the book. Culinary folk will recognize the name of Brillat-Savarin, another brilliant chef. Both of them used truffles, caviar, and fois gras liberally in their creations, as well as wines -- the wines sometimes used to drug crayfish and lobsters before cooking. Many such charming details pepper the story.

Escoffier and his wife, Delphine Daffis, a poet, lived in Monte Carlo. Escoffier worked in Paris and England and was often away from home for months or years at a time; Delphine refused to move away from Monte Carlo.

A couple of lovely romantic seduction scenes involve food and are all the more sensuous and unusual for that. There are bits of other history and war history and the Titanic plays into the story as well.

I loved this book and those who like historical fiction should enjoy it. Culinary enthusiasts will relish the richness of details. Although we will never know who Escoffier really was, this book is a beautiful and realistic tapestry of who he might have been. The writing is a joy to read. It helps to know a little French but isn't necessary.
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing to remember when reading WHITE TRUFFLES IN WINTER by N.M. Kelby is that while the three central characters are "real" the story itself is the work of the author's rather vivid imagination. In it she conjures up a tale of food, love, and the love of food. Her imaginative journey into the life of food-obsessed chef, Auguste Escoffier, his unconventionally liberated wife, poet Delphine Daffis, and the "other woman" in his life - the bold, free-spirited Sarah Bernhardt is as delectable to one's reading palate as the dishes created by this amazing chef who pioneered French cuisine.

Being neither a gourmet cook nor an expert in fine dining, I was not personally familiar with the name Auguste Escoffier but discovered that I was, however, familiar with some of the dishes he created like Peach Melba and Cherries Jubilee (created for Queen Victoria) as well as some of the famous places where he plied his talent like The Ritz, The Carlton and The Savoy hotels.

The tale is basically told in retrospect by an aged Escoffier and combines the story of his unconventional love life with unusual recipes, related in a most uncommon manner. At times the recipes almost overwhelm the story as Kelby chooses to demonstrate Escoffier's compulsion for creating the new and unusual in an effusive and highly romanticized fashion. For this reader at least, some of this descriptive writing was a little "over the top" and flowery, however, it did convey the message that Escoffier could never really be as loving and devoted to any woman as he was to his first true love, food for which he abandoned family, friends and homeland.

Author Kelby presents an interesting take on the life of Escoffier and his many contributions to the art of cooking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
N.M. Kelby is a genius at"cooking up" yarns. If you need a holiday gift this book is the perfect choice for one who loves to cook,a foodie, a Francophile, a historian, a lover, in fact everybody on your list over the age of 16.

"Truffles" had me salvating. It should come with a government warning: Caution is advised, especially to dieters, in the consumption of this work. The satire had me laughing. It also moved me to tears.

All Madame Escoffier wants in her dying days, a recipe created for her that would express Escoffier's love for her. He had named dishes for Sarah Bernhardt, Queen Victoria, and who hasn't heard of Peach Melba? Named for an opera singer who would be forgotten if not for Escoffier.

A master of preparing food, what does one do during war time, when food-stuff is impossible to come by? Use what's available, the recipe for roasted rat sounds delicious!

"Old man. you are such trouble."
You are unbearably difficult to love: a trial that would tempt Job."
And then Escoffier kissed his wife as a young man would, all passion and promise.
"And you, the great Escoffier, cannot put that on a plate?"
"This is the core of the issue." ....And so he kissed her again.

This boook should be savored, the temptation is to devour it. Bon app!

All Kelby's works deserve your attention, Amazon has all of them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very good book and I honestly didn't look forward to it ending....it's one of those. Being a fictionalized biography of the latter years of Chef Auguste Escoffier's life, it includes a few of his favorite recipes and include the stories that go behind who or what the dish was named for. These recipes that are included are told from his point of view while the rest of the biography is told from the biographer's point of view.

The book offers the premise that Escoffier had an affair with performer Sarah Bernhardt while being married to his wife, Delphine. Because he was anchored to one hotel, establishment, or another for most of his life, he was often away from his home in Monte Carlo, and so he had the luxury to have such an affair. The affair, however, lived in its own world as, much of the time, Sarah was acting on stages the world over, so Auguste saw her only when she was available. While his wife didn't like it, she also seemed to have no control over it and therefore tolerated it...but, as the years pass by and Auguste spends more time in Paris at a hotel, the time he spends at home is relegated to a weekend here and there every few months.

Author N.M. Kelby's lusciously descriptive text takes you right into the kitchens Auguste is working in and even though he doesn't actually cook, he does teach. The story opens with Escoffier teaching a young apprentice, a young woman, who is both eager to learn and eager to get off work to hang out with her friends. Understanding Sabine's reticence to be in the station of work she is compared in the imagery of canning bushels of tomato sauce, which, when done, is fed into champagne bottles then corked.
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