Lanchester, John "The Debt to Pleasure" - 1996
Another book club read. It was totally strange and weird. I had a hard time getting into it or follow the plot. We had chosen this book because one of our members said her friend thought this was the best book she had ever read. After we had chosen it, one of our members heard who the friend was who had suggested the book. She said she had a very weird taste.
Well, at the end I thought if I'd know the end before I read it, I might have enjoyed it better. I certainly would have understood it better. When I knew the end, I thought the author had done a good job, I actually might read it again with this knowledge.
From the back cover: "Tarquin Winot, voluptuary and supercivilized ironist (and snob), sets out on a journey of the senses from the Hotel Splendide, Portsmouth, to his cottage in Provence, his spiritual home. With his head newly shaved and his well-thumbed copy of the Mossad Manual of Surveillance Techniques safely stowed, Tarquin elegantly introduces his life, itself a work of art, through the medium of seasonal menus. 'Coruscatingly, horribly funny . . . a cunning commentary on art, appetite, jealousy and failure. Tarquin is a splendid creation, genuinely learned (the scholarship is dazzling), poisonously bigoted and wholly mad' John Banville, Observer, 'A fully achieved work of art . . .a triumph. You have to salute the real thing. The Debt to Pleasure is a major work, a supreme literary construct that's also deliriously entertaining. Even the recipes are gorgeously seductive; several pages of my copy are flecked with stains of ragu and ratatouille to mark the moments when I could stand temptation no more' John Walsh, Independent. 'Reading between the lines to discover what Tarquin is up to is enormous, sinister fun . . .dazzling, languidly brilliant, his verbal flourishes are irresistible' James Walton, Daily Telegraph. 'The chilling, deluded Tarquin is the best character to come out of an English novel since Charles Dickens put pen to paper' Cressida Connolly, Tatler"
We discussed this in our book club in October 2002.