The Last Banquet (Hardcover)
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): This first novel for this talented writer is a rich, luscious memoir of the fictional marquis Jean-Marie d’Aumant, who pens his story as he awaits the mob of the French Revolution that will spell the end of his life. His life story spans most of eighteenth century France, the last days of privilege for the aristocracy. Jean-Marie’s life has been characterized by a compulsive exploration of taste, from beetles to snake to wolf heart and women. His legacy is a truly unique collection of recipes and a tender and sometimes sad love story.— From Ron's Picks
October 2013 Indie Next List
“In the pre-dawn of the French Revolution, Jean-Marie d'Aumont strives to wrest an ounce of immortality from every experience, taste, and sensation this world has to offer. From his rescue as a child at the foot of a dung heap to his appointment as Lord Master of the Menagerie, d'Aumont's life is 'built almost entirely on a foundation of events colliding.' Grimwood takes us on a tour through French history, from the death of the Sun King to the Revolution, but at its heart The Last Banquet is a beautiful -- and, at times, macabre -- meditation on the inexorable march of history and man's struggle to leave an indelible mark before his own time is spent.”
— Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
Set against the backdrop of the Enlightenment, the delectable decadence of Versailles, and the French Revolution, The Last Banquet is an intimate epic that tells the story of one man's quest to know the world through its many and marvelous flavors. Jean-Marie d'Aumout will try anything once, with consequences that are at times mouthwatering and at others fascinatingly macabre (Three Snake Bouillabaisse anyone? Or perhaps some pickled Wolf's Heart?). When he is not obsessively searching for a new taste d'Aumout is a fast friend, a loving husband, a doting father, and an imaginative lover. He befriends Ben Franklin, corresponds with the Marquis de Sade and Voltaire, becomes a favorite at Versailles, thwarts a peasant uprising, improves upon traditional French methods of contraception, plays an instrumental role in the Corsican War of Independence, and constructs France's finest menagerie. But d'Aumout's every adventurous turn is decided by his at times dark obsession to know all the world's flavors before that world changes irreversibly. As gripping as Patrick Suskind's Perfume, as gloriously ambitious as Daniel Kehlman's Measuring the World, and as prize-worthy as Andrew Miller's Pure, The Last Banquet is a hugely appealing novel about food and flavor, about the Age of Reason and the ages of man, and our obsessions and about how, if we manage to survive them, they can bequeath us wisdom and consolation in old age.
About the Author
Jonathan Grimwood was born in Malta and grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. He has written for many newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph and The Independent. Writing under the name Jon Courtenay Grimwood, he has won the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel twice, and his work has been published in over fifteen languages. He divides his time between London and Winchester.