In turn-of-the-century Paris, Jeanne Proust, a cultivated Jewish woman married to a Catholic doctor, writes in her diaries of personal and global events. The Dreyfus Affair, tomorrow’s menu, and her family’s health are duly noted in the precise retelling of her daily life. But her most constant theme is her son Marcel. Plagued by grandiose social aspirations, unfulfilled literary ambitions, and asthma, Marcel will not settle down to bourgeois life. Mme Proust’s diary is increasingly interrupted by its translator, Marie, who is poring over these documents in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Marie’s obsession with the diaries is refuge from her own disappointment, an unrequited love for the enigmatic Max. The final strand of this novel tells the story of Sarah, a twelve-year-old Parisian refugee sent to Canada to escape the Nazis. As a young adult she returns to Paris to discover that her parents have perished. Back in Toronto, she settles into an uneasy womanhood. Alienated from her husband and son, she seeks refuge in her kitchen, where she recreates a kosher version of classic French cuisine.
Kate Taylor entwines the stories of three women to create a haunting tale — a compassionate novel, extraordinary in its elegance and passion.
Kate Taylor, author
Kate Taylor is an award-winning novelist and an arts columnist at The Globe and Mail. Her debut novel, Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen, was a national bestseller, winning the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Canada-Caribbean region), the City of Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award. Her second novel, A Man in Uniform, was shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award. She lives in Toronto with her husband and son.
- “Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen" reads like a dream, meticulously crafted and researched, sophisticated in style and structure. - National Post
- Taylor has tackled these ideas with tenderness and subtlety; it is an ambitious project by a promising writer. - Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)
- Moving dextrously between Paris and Canada, Kate Taylor weaves together these disparate strands with great skill, sympathy and frequently arresting prose. She writes most beguilingly about identity, belonging and exile. - The Guardian
- Take this splendid book to bed with you... It will be a surprise if "Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen" doesn’t work its way on to thousands of bedside tables with the same word-of-mouth recommendation that turned Mary Lawson’s "Crow Lake" into a bestseller. - The Globe and Mail
- Magnificent... Like Michael Cunningham in his prizewinning "The Hours", Taylor adopts a tripartite structure to show how events in a writer’s life and themes in his work have resonance for subsequent generations. Taylor’s is, however, much the richer, subtler and less deterministic work... truly inspired. - The Times (UK)
- Winner, 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize For Best First Book, Canada-Caribbean
Rights Holder: Cooke International
rights sold: English (Canada, Doubleday; UK, Chatto & Windus)
rights available: World
number of pages: 432
publication date: 01/14/2003
Original language of pub: English
Materials Available: complete manuscript