Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NEXT UP: (Probably Don't) Read "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry"

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of food and mildly obsessed with Paris (What. Up.).

My most recent read  combined those two interests. When I saw a hardcover copy of The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry marked down from $25.99 to $5.99 (Raise your hand if you love The Strand!), I eagerly bought it. Oh yes, I'm also a big fan of being frugal.

But the low price was not my only reason behind purchasing the novel. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, praised the work: "Flinn's tale of chasing her ultimate dream makes for a really lovely book--engaging, intelligent, and surprisingly suspenseful." Indeed, Flinn's memoir is very similar to Gilbert's tale of leaving behind a corporate, steady career to pursue a dream. When she's fired from her job, Flinn takes the advice of her former co-worker and soon-to-be boyfriend Mike and finally signs up to be a student at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Mike and Kathleen move to Paris, and the latter begins her journey into burning souffles, entertaining visitors from abroad, falling in love, and meeting an international crew of fellow cooks.

What I Liked: Food. Paris. Did I mention I like food and Paris? I really enjoyed learning about the real tasks presented to Le Cordon Bleu students, as well as the recipes. Flinn details her cooking challenges in a clear and engaging manner. The French language sprinkled throughout the memoir enhanced its Parisian feel and made me long for an afternoon stroll by the River Seine.

What I Didn't LikeI think Elizabeth Gilbert was being generous when she called the book "surprisingly suspenseful." Yes, I felt compelled to keep reading, but little about this book was unexpected. The school is harder than she thought? Shocking. Her first recipe is a dud? Who would've guessed. Her last recipe is a total hit? Whoa, surprise ending. She falls in love with both Paris and her male friend? Stop, I can't handle the twists! It is a true story rather than fiction, so perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh, but Flinn also way overdid the use of metaphors and tidy life lessons. I'm about to spoil the last paragraph of the book for you, but it really doesn't give anything away (which should say something). It reads: "As in cooking, living requires that you taste, taste, taste as you go along--you can't wait until the dish of life is done." The dish of life? Really? And "From my romance with Mike, I've come to realize I'd never explored the streets of my emotions enough to learn the geography of my heart"...Huh? Basically, the book was a little too corny and predictable for my sophisticated (ha! kidding) tastes. Pardon the pun.

Should you read it? Meh. It was enjoyable, but clearly I disliked more aspects of it than I liked. There are too many great books on Paris (and food), such as Almost French, to spend too much time on the okay ones.

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