A bighearted, multisensory tour of France.



An American diplomat’s wife finds sweet solace in Parisian culture and cuisine.

It had been Mah’s (Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself, 2010) childhood dream to live in Paris, so when her husband accepted an extended assignment to France, she was ecstatic. The typically nomadic lifestyle of a foreign serviceman can be tough on a spouse, however, and when the author found herself alone in the City of Light after her husband was reassigned to Iraq, she was flummoxed. Despite her trepidation, Mah—whose predicament frequently mirrors that of diplomat-wife–cum-chef Julia Child—exuberantly writes of wandering around Paris “conscious of my American accent and Asian face” yet bravely immersing herself in its regional cuisine, which alleviated her loneliness and satiated a blooming curiosity about the luscious food of France. Mah savored the cuisine of 10 different French regions, beginning by sinking her teeth into clumsily ordered but impeccably prepared steak frites, then tackling headier fare like Andouillette. Threaded throughout are anecdotes on Mah’s Chinese-American childhood, her often difficult life as a diplomat’s wife, and the connection between French cultural history and its food. The author lingers over these stories as lovingly as the scrumptious food set before her. Recipes round out each colorful and mouthwateringly described segment as Mah travels to the Brittany region searching out crepes, Provence’s chunky vegetable soupe au pistou, and the Savoie staple, fondue au fromage. Consistently passionate and emotionally resonant, Mah’s prose brims with true love—not only for her adventures in and around the fragrant Parisian marketplaces, but also for daily life sharing delectable food with her husband and rediscovering herself during his lengthy absences.

A bighearted, multisensory tour of France.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-670-02599-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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