'A colourful life, brilliantly imagined… Romance and adventure drip off every page… Not an ounce of fat.' The Times
'Intriguing, fanciful, philosophical and told with an admirable lightness of touch.' The Daily Mail
'Intelligent story of lost innocence… Convincingly in the traditions of Patrick Süskind's Perfume & Andrew Millar's Pure.' TLS
'Darkly engaging, quasi-picaresque… Sensuous and lean, both colorful and matter-of-fact.' Wall Street Journal
‘Vividly evoked… A fuly-realized protagonist, at once sober, self reliant, and inventive.’ The New Yorker
'An astonishing, sensual feast…' The Independent
'A true feast for the senses... Such is the richness of the story telling that the reader is persuaded that it could be fact.' The Scotsman
Grimwood’s brilliantly evocative new book reads like a cross between Patrick Süskind and Angela Carter.' Irish Times
'Jean-Marie d’Aumout ne manque pas de goût… Ce Dernier Banquet est à dévorer sur-le-champ…’ Le Figaro
'Sweeps with enviable confidence from the era of aristocratic hubris to revolutionary dissolution.' The Telegraph
Shortlisted Le Prix Montesquieu 2015
Independent 50 Best Books of Winter
NPR 100 Best Books of the Year.
One man’s search for the perfect taste set between the death of the Sun King and the start of the French Revolution, against a backdrop of the rise of Enlightenment and the collapse of the ancien régime. It is a story of obsession, revolution and recipes.
Spanning eighteenth century France, The Last Banquet is the memoir of Jean-Marie d’Aumout, orphan, military cadet, aristocrat, gastronome and owner of the finest menagerie in France outside of Versailles. We follow his fortunes from beetle-eating poverty to the courtship of his best friend’s sister and his rise to fame.
It deals with his friendship with American revolutionary Ben Franklin, his correspondence with Voltaire and de Sade, and his part in the fall of the republic of Corsica, where he goes in search of a feted but highly unusual cheese. As France begins to fall under the grip of revolution, Jean-Marie seeks refuge in undiscovered dishes and wayward recipes, half welcoming, half fearful of the coming destruction, and the rebirth for society that he hopes will lie beyond.