Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chasing Cézanne

Last night on the train ride home, I finished reading Chasing Cézanne by Peter Mayle. I picked this book randomly off of our bookshelf. If you haven't seen our books shelves, I'll give you a little idea. We've got four pretty much fully lined with books Mr. H. and I have read (or been meaning to read). It's like a little library in our second bedroom. When we moved in together, Mr. H. and I realized that oddly enough, we didn't have that many over lapping books. Which was nice, cause now we have all these books that neither of us have read to choose from (though I get the feeling sometimes that Mr. H. doesn't really want to read any of my books). Regardless, I've been working my way through his books (some of them, some I don't really want to he's got a lot of heady literature that I'd need a PHD to read, which I don't have). So after finishing Light on Yoga, I needed a novel that wasn't going to be too involved. So I picked up Chasing Cézanne. At just under 300 pages and a review by People magazine on the back, I figured I was in for an easy ride. And easy it was. We are quickly introduced into the world of decorating magazines and those who photograph them through Andre, the half French half New York (what a combo) photographer. We get whisked away to France to watch him photograph some old ladies icons when he accidentally oversees a Cézanne being removed from a house under unusual pretenses. Andre isn't in the world of the rich and powerful, just close to it, and so this book keeps us on the outskirts of that world, giving us a glimpse into what it would be like not only to own a Cézanne, but be rich enough to want to have it forged and sold so your kids don't have to pay the inheritance tax on it.

Alas there is no real mystery of why the Cézanne is being sold (unless you're like me and have no idea why someone would buy an expensive painting just to keep it hidden away). But the chase for it leads through some interesting descriptions of wonderful meals (Mayle seems to love France and its food). I wasn't disappointed in this book, but I wasn't in love with it. The end left me a little flat as it just seemed to end and so I wasn't sure exactly why I started.

Then I remembered, I started because this is one of the books Mr. H. has that I haven't read and I needed something to read. Funny thing is, Mr. H. has never even read this book (and now probably won't). When I told him I was reading it and didn't understand the inscription in the book he told me its story. Apparently a while ago he was at a bar with his sister Andrea. While sitting having a drink, another patron of the bar started chatting with Mr. H. Apparently he was smitten and rushed home to return with this book. He said it was his favorite and Mr. H. must read it. The inscription inside says: To J... Bon Appetit. Steve Z.

Well Steve. Thanks for giving Mr. H. this book so I had something to read on the train.

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