The Glutton

S. & S. Audio. Oct. 2023. 11:16 hrs. ISBN 9781797165646. $23.99. F
In 1798 France, Sister Perpetué, a nun working in a hospital near Versailles, watches over a most unusual patient and learns of his heartbreaking past. The gaunt, sallow man, named Tarare, is dying. It’s rumored that he ate a golden fork that is killing him from the inside out, but he is also said to have done more monstrous things to satisfy his unending and unusual appetite. Born to a widowed mother, Tarare grew up loving the saints and Baby Jesus. However, his gentle country life was soon rocked by revolution, sending him on a dangerous path as his appetite grew increasingly insatiable. Blakemore’s (The Manningtree Witches) historical novel, reimagines the story of the real-life “Glutton of Lyon.” While Blakemore delivers horrific descriptions, her novel is unexpectedly lyrical and even hopeful. Graham Halstead narrates, modulating his voice to capture Tarare as a child with simple dreams and as a young man seen as an oddity, and, ultimately, a monster. His narration, fully communicating the tenderness, anger, and tragedy of Tarare’s story, brings this luminous novel to the next level.
VERDICT Blakemore’s highly recommended sophomore novel illuminates the complexities behind an infamous historical figure and is devastating and compassionate in equal measure.
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