The Ingredients of Love

Nicholas Barreau, trans. from the French by Bill McCann. St. Martin’s, $14.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-00670-7
Aurélie Bredin, the heroine of Barreau’s disappointing English-language debut, recounts how a book saves her life after her live-in boyfriend suddenly leaves her. After all, the life-saving book, called The Smiles of Women, features a woman much like Aurélie, as well as a small French restaurant like hers in the Rue Princesse in Paris. Aurélie is determined to meet the English author, Robert Miller, and pick his brain about the book, while secretly hoping that the encounter might lead to a great love affair. As it turns out, Robert Miller is a ghost, a pen name created by book editor and author André Chabanais. Barreau revolves chapters between the perspectives of Aurélie and André, foretelling their take on this screwball situation. André is intrigued by Aurélie, first by her letter and then, when they meet, by her; remaining coy about Mr. Miller, André uses Aurélie’s desire for romance to his advantage, a risky strategy that typically blows up in someone’s face. The predictability of Barreau’s plot and his inability to render Aurélie’s romanticism results in a missed opportunity; what could have been a charming romance set in the romance capital of the world falls flat. Recipes. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 12/24/2012
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-250-09506-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-84866-246-9
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-78206-557-9
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