The Secret of Chantilly by Laura Rahme
Publication Date: November 28, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
"In my story, there was such a prince. And never in my wildest imagination would I have predicted that I would come to live with him, in his château."
PARIS, 1792. Antonin Carême is eight years old when he is left to fend for himself in a city about to enter the darkest days of the French revolution. The imaginative boy who yearns for a fairy tale come true soon discovers his talent for pâtisserie.
When he meets the mysterious Boucheseiche, maître d’hôtel for Napoleon’s minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Carême’s world is turned upside down. Boucheseiche promises that one day, he will reveal to him the secret of Chantilly.
Appointed chef at the château of Valençay, Carême falls under the spell of the enigmatic Talleyrand. He is soon swept up in his own fairy tale – a whirlwind of princes, princesses and châteaux, with pâtisserie and scandal along the way. Then comes Napoleon’s downfall and everything changes. Can Carême place his trust in the elusive Talleyrand, that limping devil for whom no one seems to matter?
Orphan of the Terror, genius crippled by self-doubt, it will take years for Carême to finally discover the secret of Chantilly.
This is the story of a child who defied his birth to become a legend of French gastronomy and of the unimaginable friendship between two men from entirely different worlds.
From the streets of Paris to the château of Valençay, from the congress of Vienna to the dazzling ballrooms of France’s richest man, Carême recounts adventures colored with spice, humor and tenderness, but always rich with France’s history, its heritage and its great culinary art.
Marie Antoine Carême was left to fend for himself on the streets of Paris in 1792 at just eight years old. Antonin works making soup for a chophouse, abused and underfed. He soon finds something better where he is taught how to cook. Antonin dreams of someday cooking for the rich. He finds his way to an apprenticeship with Sylvain Bailly and finds his passion in pâtisserie, creating elaborate edible structures. Antonin's structures caught the eye of French Diplomat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. Antonin is brought into the world of politics and trains under Boucheseiche in Talleyrand's kitchen, creating a year's menu with no repeat dishes. Antonin realizes his dream, cooking for Napoleon, princes and princesses throughout his career. However, he can't shake the story of Chantilly that Boucheseiche told him and the lesson that it contained.
The Secret of Chantilly is the story of real-life King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings, Marie Antoine Carême. Told like a fairy tale, we are first introduced to Antonin on his death bed as he recounts his life from the streets to Palaces. The writing makes Antonin's life seem like magic, but it is really just hard work and a little luck as he climbs the culinary ladder. Set in the backdrop of the French Revolution, Antonin's story could have easily been one of tragedy. I enjoyed reading about his life as a child, his friendship with Marie-Lou and his time learning how to cook. As Antonin began working for Talleyrand, the pace flattened out a bit for me when it should have been full of political intrigue. I was very interested in Antonin's time spying for Talleyrand, but the venture fell flat for me. What was most interesting was the food and people's reactions to Carême's creations. I was glad that Carême finally realized the secret of Chantilly and I was able to learn about the life of this French master chef.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
About the Author
Laura Rahme is a French-Australian author based in Brittany, France. Born in Dakar, Senegal and inspired by her Lebanese, French and Vietnamese heritage, she has a passion for covering historical and cultural ground in her writing. She has written,
The Ming Storytellers (2012) - a historical novel set in China's Early Ming Dynasty.
The Mascherari (2014) - a historical mystery with supernatural themes set in 15th century Venice.
Julien's Terror (2017) - a French Revolution psychological thriller/mystery which pays homage to her Breton origins.
Calista (2021) - a Victorian gothic horror mystery set in 19th century England and Greece.
The Secret of Chantilly (2021) — a real-life fairy tale set in France featuring the first celebrity chef, Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) and one of France's most influential figures, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.
In 2020, Laura announced that she is working on a historical crime novel set in her birth country, Senegal. The Silence of the Pirogue will explore 70s and 80s Senegal, a world she has lived.
Laura plans to craft two sequels to The Mascherari - Malefica and The Master of Cologne.
With Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Engineering (Aerospace Avionics), she balances a 20-year career in Tech with her great love of telling stories.
Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, December 6
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Tuesday, December 7
Review at With A Book In Our Hands
Wednesday, December 8
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy
Thursday, December 9
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss
Friday, December 10
Review at Novels Alive
Saturday, December 11
Review at Jessica Belmont
Sunday, December 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Monday, December 13
Review at Bookoholic Cafe
Tuesday, December 14
Review at Bibliostatic
Wednesday, December 15
Review at MTM Reads
Thursday, December 16
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks
Friday, December 17
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past
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The Secret of Chantilly