Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
The best-selling author of such culinary treasures as A Thousand Days in Tuscany and A Thousand Days in Venice makes her fiction debut with this historical novel set in World War II France. The story centers on Amandine, an aristocratic child raised as an orphan in a convent. We follow her as she survives the hardships and cruelty of both life in the convent and the war-torn world. As Amandine experiences loss after loss, her longing grows for the mother she never knew. Yet Amandine is able to embrace the beauty and love of those who care for her. VERDICT The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Amandine's journey through life are palpable, and the reader shares in the sensual nature of the food described. The story is captivating, the characters are alive, and readers will hunger for more as the novel ends. Truly, de Blasi can be considered the Julia Child of fiction. A wonderful read for both fans of historical fiction and women's fiction and one that shouldn't be missed. [Library marketing.]-Melody Ballard, Pima Cty. P.L., Tucson, AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
De Blasi, a bestselling memoirist (A Thousand Days in Venice) and food-writer, makes a solid fiction debut with this poignant tale of an orphan growing up in Europe as it descends into WWII. Amandine Gilberte Noiret de Crecy, an illegitimate child born into Polish royalty and ditched at five months by her grandmother at a convent in Montpellier, grows up surrounded by a loving governess, Solange Jouffroi, and adoring nuns and priests. Yet the bitter abbess, Mother Paul, who runs the convent, inexplicably loathes her. Aware of this hatred and longing to find her birth mother, Amandine becomes a serious child who believes there is something wrong with her. After a rash of scarlet fever breaks out at the convent, Solange decides to take Amandine to live with her family, and not long after they leave the convent grounds, they are confronted with the horror the war has brought to France, which has especially dire consequences for Solange. In de Blasi's tale of unexpected turns taken during the search for understanding and identity, she balances heartbreak, loneliness, fear, and hope with aplomb. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Orphaned Amandine grows up in a convent in southern France. The inconvenient offspring of Eastern European nobility, she had been spirited out of Poland to Montpellier in infancy. Daily she has to endure the implacable ill will of the Abbess, who keeps her aloof from the rest of the children in the convent school. But Amandine's spirited governess treats her tenderly and helps Amandine through the normal anxieties of a young girl wondering where or even who her mother might be. Amandine's unrequited yearnings stoke her imagination, growing yet more intense as she reaches young adulthood. Then the Nazi invasion of France upends her serene environment but offers new opportunities for Amandine to fulfill the quest to discover her first identity. Wartime France provides a vivid, dramatic background, and De Blasi's experience as a food writer makes her descriptions of meals throughout the book even more evocative.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2010 Booklist