ON RUE TATIN by Susan Herrmann Loomis


Living and Cooking in a French Town
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Another tablespoon of saccharine for the gone-to-France-and-bought-a-darling-wreck-of-a-house genre, this time with recipes, from food-writer Loomis.

Everything is just too wonderful for Loomis when she moves to France with her husband, Michael, and young son, Joe, to write a cookbook about French farmhouse cooking. Her first week there and a couple of friends offer to pony up the francs for them to buy a 300-year-old maison bourgeoise in the Norman town of Louviers. Thus Loomis can play at la vie bohemien while the bills are underwritten. Bully for her, but, if it is too much to characterize her writing as smug, it positively—or negatively—radiates self-satisfaction: “I put a candle on the table, set it with cloth napkins and we sat down to eat. The stove was blazing and we were incredibly warm and cozy. We ate slowly and told stories to Joe.” She trips over the sheer fabulousness of it all: “The morning was delicious,” “We settled into a lovely routine,” “Louviers is magic in the mornings”—and in the afternoons and the evenings. The butcher, the fishmonger, the baker, the pastry cook—each and every one is brilliant and delightfully eccentric. They find rare bottles in the ancient cellar of their house (“These bottles will put Joe through college”), they find the right house paint (“ ‘Now more ochre,’ Michael said and I agreed”), and they seem to find a fruity bonbon and a spray of sunshine at every turn. She has a minor fracas with a local priest (far and away the best, most leathery part of the book), but otherwise it’s plain cloying from the get-go: “I try to run my hands through the scrubby thyme plants that grow in our front courtyard daily, too, for thyme loves company.”

Before readers get to the recipes at the end of each chapter, they may well have lost their appetites.

Pub Date: April 10th, 2001
ISBN: 0-7679-0454-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001