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Three Books For The Closeted Francophile

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Three Books For The Closeted Francophile

Three Books For The Closeted Francophile

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

Danielle Trussoni's new novel "Angelology" is a cross between "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Name of the Rose." It's a mystery and a thriller about the blending of angels and humans into entirely new creatures.

For our series Three Books, where authors talk about three books on one theme, Trussoni works with a very different kind of blend: food and the French.

Ms. DANIELLE TRUSSONI (Author, "Angelology"): Once upon a time, it was fashionable to adore the French. In recent years, Americans have given Francophilia the cold shoulder. But I contend that there still exists a population of Americans who secretly love France. Here is three books to help Americans step into the kitchen.

Escargot may not be the most amusing of company, but "Talk to the Snail," Stephen Clarke's witty guide to understanding French culture, is a hilarious and chatty window into the Gallic soul. From navigating Paris' rude waiters to making sense of the ever-confusing cheek-kissing, Clark's writing is so fun that you'll find yourself wishing to jump on a plane to Paris tout suite.

This novel's sensual prose and the intimate relationships that form in a cooking school will satisfy the pickiest foodies out there. Even the passages about vegetables managed to be alluring. The tomato was more horizontal than vertical with ridges running from top to bottom along its sides ready to burst.

After a five-year hiatus in France, Thomas Jefferson returned home to America with a taste for French dining, and so it was only natural that when tensions ran high between his fellow statesmen, Jefferson invited them to dinner.

Cerami's "Dinner at Mr. Jefferson's" examines one dinner in particular, a 1790 feast Jefferson organized to smooth negotiations between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Monticello was famous for many dishes, but Jefferson's ice cream was legendary. By the end of the evening, the men had agreed upon the course of the nation's foreign policy and the location for the capital.

These three books are enjoyable ways to enter into a state of Francophilia that Americans so readily shun. After reading them, you might find yourself trying out some rusty French phrases or buying a poodle. If the mood strikes you, you might even be so bold as to wear a beret.

NORRIS: Danielle Trussoni is the author of "Angelology." To comment on this essay, go to our Web site, npr.org.

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