Author: Nicolas Barreau (aka Daniela Thiele)
Pages: 338 pages
Release date: 3rd January 2013
The day begins like any other Saturday for beautiful Parisian restaurateur Aurelie Bredin, until she wakes up to find her apartment empty – her boyfriend gone off with another woman. Heartbroken, Aurelie walks the streets of Paris in the rain, finally seeking refuge in a little bookshop in the Ile Saint-Louis, where she’s drawn to a novel titled The Smiles of Women by obscure English author Robert Miller. She buys it and takes it home, but when she begins to read she’s astonished: The Smiles of Women can’t possibly be about her restaurant, about her. Except, it is.
Flattered and curious to know more, Aurelie attempts to get in touch with the reclusive Mr Miller, but it proves to be a daunting task. His French publishers seem determined to keep his identity secret, and while the Editor-in-Chief Andre Chabanais is happy to give Aurelie his time, he seems mysteriously unwilling to help her find her author. Is Robert Miller really so shy, or is there something that Andre isn’t telling Aurelie?
A charming restaurant
A book and its mysterious author
A little secret
A romantic meeting
Paris and all its magic . . .
After being dumped by Claude, her boyfriend of two years, Aurélie Bredin, chef/owner of a charming restaurant on the Rue Princesse, drifts into an Île Saint-Louis bookstore to elude a nice gendarme who thought she was about to leap into the Seine. She espies a novel entitled The Smiles of Women, in French translation, by an English author, Robert Miller. Aurelie brings the book home and reads it cover to cover, only to discover that the book is actually a tribute to her smile and her restaurant Le Temps des Cerises. Her new infatuation with Robert Miller supplants her despair over Claude, and she pledges to find the man behind the novel just to let him know that he saved her in her darkest time. But reaching this writer, who supposedly lives in a romantic English cottage with his terrier, seems close to impossible.
Aurelie writes a letter to the author but the letter never reaches Robert Miller. For one thing, The English writer Robert Miller does not really exist. He’s the literary creation of André Chabanais — the editor-in-chief of Éditions Opale, a French publishing house. Meanwhile, André Chabanais, has been told by the head of the publishing company to get Miller to come to Paris for an interview with Le Figaro. Worse, when Aurélie comes to his office in pursuit of Miller, André is smitten. To prevent exposure of his hoax, André, while trying to woo Aurélie himself, must answer her fan letters to Miller. André is getting more and more tied up in lies. How will he get out of this dilemma?
„Last year in November a book saved my life.“ With that great opening sentence Nicolas Barreau pulled me straight into the heart of Paris with his charming novel The Ingredients of Love. His descriptions of Paris life and scenery drops you into the story around the mystery of Robert Miller. The Ingredients of Love is replete with beautiful descriptions of French cuisine and actual recipes at the end of the book. It also offers a unique insight into the French publishing world. Funnily enough, for me the book’s biggest failing is Aurélie herself, who appears to be a bit one-dimensional and gullible character. Somehow, the unassuming French editor André manages to win my affection quicker than the quirky heroine. This heartwarming contemporary love story takes twists and turns like the many streets of Paris and leaves you sighing with satisfaction at the end.
While The Ingredients of Love is supposedly written by a man, I was surprised finding out that Nicolas Barreau is a pseudonym for a well-known literary figure widely speculated to be German author Daniela Thiele.