A few weeks back I received a request to review a book that was about to be published in the paperback version from Penguin Books. The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry …Love , Laughter and Tears in Paris at the Worlds Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn is in one word Outstanding!. I couldn’t put this book down over the weekend because it hit home on so many levels. A short synopsis is of a American woman in her late thirties seemingly has it all. A high level job in London, and a wonderful love.Like most of us have or are about to go through, the realities of corporate life hit and she is layed off. Fine , she wasn’t happy anyway. All her life she dreamed of studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, in part influenced by a relatives dream. But life gets in the way and dreams are put on hold. Do I know that story! I too got to study briefly in France but family duty and responsibility called me back home.Kathleen’s love encourages her to use this time and follow her dream. He even decides to join her and what follows is a comical, loving, challenging time filled with all the highs and lows that go with studying in pressure cooker like Le Cordon Bleu, competitiveness, struggles with the French culture and language, being an American abroad in these perilous times, etc. The title comes from a line uttered in a lecture by a chef. As he explains how to chop a onion he advises on the use of sharp knives and cuts so the fumes aren’t released that make you cry.But there is so much more to that sentence! The various chef instructors all have strong personalities and taskmasters that bring out the best and sometimes worst in the students. Kathleen closes each chapter with recipes from her studies, her family, her fellow students, Le Cordon Bleu, and her final exam. She even has a section at the end advising on menu ideas for a book club to discuss the book.
Kathleen Flinn reminds us that of the Ernest Hemingway quote that says “If your lucky enough to live in Paris when you’re young, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” I loved this book because it brought back so many memories of my years in art school in Paris. I could totally relate to the tears, the neighborhoods, the characters, the house guests galore( which happens when you live in a great city),the whole American abroad experience. The author is motivated by Julia Child, who ‘started late’ and a obituary of a woman. What do you want your obituary to say? Are you happy, and is really to late to do what you love? What holds you back, will you die with regrets?And most important, are you surrounded by people who truly love and support you in your dreams, because that is essential to succeed. This author is writer by profession who also loves cuisine. Young old, mid career or just starting out, this book is for everyone.
The people at PENGUIN were kind enough to give me an extra copy.Just comment on what your dream is or what you would do if life threw you a curve ball and had the chance to do what you loved? I will leave the comments open until Friday August 29. and pick a winner randomly. Good Luck!