December Book Discussion Group: The Book of Salt

The Book of Salt was author Monique Truong’s first novel. As a Vietnamese-American who came to America as a six-year old refugee with her mother in 1975, Ms. Truong set her first novel in Paris and Saigon of the early 1930’s. The narrator of the story is a young Vietnamese cook who has been employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (the Mesdames) for five years.

We had a lively discussion about several of the book’s themes, such as: the relation of food and seduction, the meaning of salt, and French colonialism in Vietnam. It was fascinating to read about the Paris of this age and come to appreciate some of the unknown details of the Mesdames’ lives. We found it amusing that both Ms. Toklas and Ms. Stein were totally enthralled and in love with Gertrude Stein!

We also enjoyed looking at some pictures of the Mesdames and their favorite dog, Basket, out for a stroll in Paris and “at home” in their studio.

The January book discussion meeting will be on Wednesday, January 28th at 10:30 am. We will choose a book soon.