Today’s French Friday pick is the debut fictional novel from Samantha Vérant (Seven Letters from Paris and How to Make a French Family) and it’s the perfect pick as we slide into a long weekend and try to forget everything that’s going on (and the anxiety of back-to-school season!). The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux, a delightful read, releases next week, September 8th 2020!
From the publisher:
A disgraced chef rediscovers her passion for food and her roots in this stunning novel rich in culture and full of delectable recipes.
French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. From spending summers with her grandmother, who taught her the power of cooking and food, to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Sophie finds herself on the cusp of getting everything she’s dreamed of.
Until her career goes up in flames.
Sabotaged by a fellow chef, Sophie is fired, leaving her reputation ruined and confidence shaken. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red-eye to France. There, Sophie discovers the simple home she remembers from her childhood is now a luxurious château, complete with two restaurants and a vineyard. As Sophie tries to reestablish herself in the kitchen, she comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change.
The story begins in a kitchen in New York where Sophie is poised to become the first female chef at the helm of a 3-star Michelin restaurant… until she isn’t. Her career falls apart in the blink of an eye and so does Sophie. What saves her is family… her grandmother in France and a health crisis which puts Sophie back in southwest France with more than a few challenges which help her move beyond the disappointment and resentment she’s feeling towards her career debacle in the US as she finds other priorities to focus on.
There’s romance and family intrigue intertwined in what is essentially a “coming of age” story for Sophie – through the story, she discovers what’s really important (it might not be those Michelin stars back in the US after all…) and where she truly belongs (not in the US, it’s pretty clear by the end of the book). It’s a whirlwind of emotions that run the gamut – from true despair and misery to happiness and hope, Sophie experiences them all!
The book includes a handful of Sophie’s “secret recipes” which some might find a little “cheffy” (Arugula and Endive with Rosemary Encrusted Goat Cheese Toasts, garnished with Pomegranate Grains and Clementine Slices served with a Citrus-Infused Dressing – now that’s a mouthful!), but it’s not a cookbook per se – these really just complement the storyline, which includes, obviously, plenty of food talk throughout. It’s obvious Sam has done a ton of research on these recipes as the food and cooking descriptions are very detailed – also, I watched on social media as she experimented with recipes though the book-writing process and I know it was a delicious journey!
Sam’s love of France and French food, passion for life and her playful personality all shine through in this book – it’s a lighthearted read with lots of plot twists to keep you engaged all the way through to the happy ending. A perfect summer read for those who love France, French food (and wine), romance and travel (and, well, since many of us can’t travel to France right now…). A page-turner that will transport you to France and immerse you in the world of food and have you thinking “One day…”.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received an e-copy of the book from the author for review purposes. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own.
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