South Korean bestseller Jo makes her English-language debut with a novel focused on elemental experiences, primarily food and sex.

As narrator Jung Ji-won quickly informs us, the plot is anti-Romantic. Instead of two characters meeting and falling in love, the story begins with the collapse of a relationship. Ji-won and her long-term architect boyfriend have split, because he has taken up with the lovely Lee Se-yeon, a former model. In an understandable funk, Ji-won closes the cooking school she’d been running out of her home and takes refuge in the sous-chef position she’d formerly had at Nove, an Italian restaurant in Seoul. Her tenure had given her several opportunities to travel to Italy, where she “learned how to pair foie gras with baked apple in Tuscany, how to make gelato in Bologna, and assembled pizza margherita in Napoli.” As Ji-won slowly begins to rehabilitate herself, food becomes her passion, her escape and, ultimately, her revenge. The separation from her lover is a messy one, however. She gets their dog, Paulie, while her boyfriend basks in the sensual delights of Se-yeon. On the other hand, Ji-won makes abundantly clear the sensual connection between food and love: “The person you can eat with is also the person you can have sex with, and the person you can have sex with is the person you can eat with. That’s why dates always start with a meal.” While Ji-won is not pleased with having caught her boyfriend in flagrante delicto, what really puts the icing on the proverbial cake is Se-yeon’s decision to teach cooking classes. Not only is Se-yeon, as Ji-won acidly notes, “the woman who couldn’t differentiate between parsley and mugwort last fall,” she’s giving those classes in the “perfect” kitchen the boyfriend originally designed for Ji-won. But chefs have subtle ways of extracting their pound of flesh.

A sumptuous feast.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59691-651-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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