Cooking for Picasso

Cooking for Picasso

A Novel

Book - 2016 | First edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
For readers of Paula McLain, Nancy Horan, and Melanie Benjamin, this captivating novel is inspired by a little-known interlude in the artist's life.

"A tasty blend of romance, mystery, and French cooking."--Margaret Atwood, via Twitter

The French Riviera, spring 1936: It's off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Caf#65533; Paradis. A mysterious new patron who's slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request--to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he's secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.

Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life--and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family's authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.

New York, present day: C#65533;line, a Hollywood makeup artist who's come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother's enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, C#65533;line carries out Julie's wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the C#65533;te d'Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, C#65533;line discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future.

Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera's most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France, Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre.

Praise for Cooking for Picasso

"Intrigue, art, food, and deception are woven together in a tale of love and betrayal around the life and legacy of Picasso. Touching and true, this well-written narrative made me long for my mother's coq au vin and for the sun of Juan-les-Pins." --Jacques P#65533;pin, chef, TV personality, author

"Intriguing and insightful, the sensory details alone will have you thinking you're reading the pages seated at a seaside caf#65533; in the South of France." --Susan Meissner, author of Secrets of a Charmed Life

"[A] delicious, atmospheric novel . . . You'll be glad you're along for the ride." -- People (Pick for "The Best New Books")

"[A] colorful family saga . . . Cooking for Picasso is . . . about how people take what seems to be worthless and make it into something priceless. . . . The characters in Camille Aubray's debut novel illustrate . . . that value lies not in what you own, but in who you are." --The Washington Post

"This richly crafted tale of love, trust, art and food is wonderfully evocative of the sun-kissed C#65533;te d'Azur, while weaving in a modern-day mystery. . . . Ideal for whiling away some time en vacances on the Riviera." -- France Today

"[A] sweet summer escape." -- Cosmopolitan
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780399177651
Branch Call Number: FIC AUBRA
Characteristics: 390 pages


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 02, 2019

What a jewel of a novel. So full of artistic details and french cuisine. The reader is left with the delightful feeling of actually experience life in a more quaint and satisfying time.

Aug 17, 2018

I absolutely loved this book. When I began reading it I thought it was going to be a light read with not much substance to it. I was wrong. I originally picked it up because of the title. I love cooking, art and have been to the south of France. The plot was very interesting and as the book progressed I became very involved. In the middle of the day if I start wondering what the characters of a book are doing, I know I am invested. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed meeting Picasso and getting a glimpse into his life and character. The story moved along at a steady pace with just the right amount of detail.

I highly recommend this book.

Sep 19, 2017

Céline travels to Provence with her aunt and sets out to reclaim Picasso's painting of her grandmother. An inspiring story about the transcendent journey of La Fille à la Fenêtre through three generations, their accomplices and the South of France that picks up at midpoint.

Jun 06, 2017

This book was selected for our book club by a member who is a real foodie and in this way the book satisfies. (She cooked us a très délicieux 6-course French dinner based on food descriptions in the book.)
I found the story of three generations of French women separated through eight decades rather melodramatic. The plot stretched my credibility with umpteen coincidences and characters who were two-dimensional, either hero or villain. The most developed character was Picasso as we saw various facets of his personality. I had not known of Picasso’s private tendencies of misogynist bullying with his wife and harem of mistresses throughout his life. "If you’re a genius, they don’t call you a pervert." (p.101)
It’s a light read, structured as a formulaic mystery and, as such, I found it a page turner, despite the over-the-top writing style.

Dec 27, 2016

An ambitious attempt at story-telling that combines food, art, history and romance that is worth a read in front of a fireplace in the winter. More for female audiences than males given its propensity to push more of the emotional buttons for the former than the latter.

It is very successful in embedding a historical and celebrity figure into a work of fiction with an imagined look at the character in private moments. It is also an example of being a good foodie novel in the sense of cooking and cuisine being a part of life. Not a fad and a hobby as in contemporary foodie fiction that just caters to an addiction to food-porn by reciting menus and ingredients.

What keeps it from being a great novel is that most of the material is not new. Any number of novels and movies exist on the theme of artists/writers in the French Riviera and their young muses. The dysfunctional American family is a trademark of most contemporary American fiction. The type of romance in the novel is a staple of Harlequin novels. Calamities and misfortune strike at calculated intervals to lead to a fairy-tale ending. There is no intent to provoke deeper social, philosophical or moral dilemmas/ambiguities.

Just competent story-telling that does not pretend to be anything more.

Nov 25, 2016

I love stories that bring a bit of art and history into being. Here we have a story of a family, particularly a young Odine, who works for, and has a brief affair with Picasso. The writer's tale has flow and a style that takes you right to the scene. It was an interesting read, not gripping.
Why not transcend time and place and travel in words to the south of France, take in the recipes of past tradition, romance, and art?

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top