Once again I find myself reviewing a book somehow connected with food. The Feasting Season by Nancy Coons, is a lush novel about history, passion and pleasure. Meg Parker is an American writer living in France. She and her British husband Nigel and their two children have lived there for ten years. Meg seems content with her simple life, writing French textbooks and taking care of her family, when she gets an opportunity to write the book she has always wanted: French History. When she’s paired with a less than thrilled photographer, Meg’s not quite sure she’s made the right decision. Jean-Jacques doesn’t seem happy with her idea. Instead of covering French history, Jean-Jacques, a passionate Frenchman, wants to focus on current events: the food, the wine, the colorful celebrations. Between Meg’s frustration with his arrogance and her frustration with Nigel, who seems to take advantage of her traveling all over France to ignore his children and stay out drinking with his friends, she’s in for a lot more than she bargained for. But as Meg and Jean-Jacque spend more and more time together, taking photographs, searching for France’s past and devouring the delicious dishes of each region they cover, they begin to appreciate other desires, the desires of the flesh. Meg must ask herself what she wants, what her family needs and if she can possibly turn away from Jean-Jacques now that he has uncovered in her a passion she didn’t know she had.
The Feasting Season is a sensual, entertaining novel. I skimmed a couple historical parts but only because I wanted to get on to the “good” stuff. Other than the sometimes long historical descriptions, the writing was, I thought, terrific. Nancy Coons obviously knows her stuff- France and Food. I wasn’t into the book but a chapter or two before I wanted to make a delicious meal, just like the ones Meg describes in the novel. Coq au vin, creamy cheeses, wild strawberries, oysters, blackberry jam, Crème Brule, these are just some of the treats Meg samples along the way. As far as the people- I really disliked Nigel; I thought he was selfish, annoying and patronizing. I couldn’t figure out why Meg married him in the first place. I thought her relationship with Jean-Jacques was volatile and a little bit dangerous but also extremely romantic and sexy. The Feasting Season left me with two feelings. The first, a mouth watering with hunger, the second, a head lingering with questions. What will happen for sure?
This was originally posted in 2009 for Writers News Weekly.