Book Review: Babette by Ross Eliot

| Mar 17, 2014
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The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth

Review by Gina Vizavi

babette-coverWow, what a roller coaster story! The main character Babette is a cross between something from a Kurt Vonnegut novel (think Elliot Rosewater) and Julia Child, with a voracious approach to life that’s a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas. Were I not told it was biographical, I would have thought, “you just can’t make this up!” and I found myself laughing out loud more than once.

The University-of-Bordeaux-trained Dr. Ellsworth (Babette) is one of those rare teachers who mesmerizes students with historical tales as if she were an eyewitness observer, one whose lectures are extemporaneous, devoid of yellowed-dog-eared notes that leave the audience richer for the experience and with a desire to learn more. The depth of her knowledge is evident as she weaves threads of literature, art and history into a rich tapestry. A “Renaissance Person” in the best sense of the word, and all over the map with a wide variety of interests and accomplishments.

In part the book may be considered a coming of age story. The author, Ross Eliot, engages the reader with considerable literary talent, which fleshes out her story, and his, with vivid imagery — almost like watching a film. Ross seems a rather savvy 22 year-old when he enrolls in Babette’s history course at Portland Community College. His narration paints Babette as a caricature of eccentricity.

Perhaps it is Babette who is coming of age, a transsexual who had surgery late in life — only six years before offering Ross living quarters in her basement pantry in exchange for household responsibilities and help with some of the things that have become difficult in her advancing age. It seems that Ross’ personality has provided him with the necessary qualifications for navigating life with Babette.

Perhaps it is a love story, for Babette not only has a ravenous lust for life but shares her passion with everyone she encounters. She shares her knowledge and love of life with Ross who gets more of what used to be termed a “liberal education” by being exposed to Babette and her extensive library than any student at Portland Community College or anywhere else for that matter. Babette, kidnapped as an infant and having lived a life of aristocracy in Europe as a child, hasn’t just read the classics, she is a classic!

Or perhaps it’s a mystery, with family secrets, personal secrets, identity shifts, and international intrigue keeping the reader engaged and turning pages!

Whatever it is, be it memoir or biography, the story has more unexpected twists and turns than a novel and Ross Eliot spins it with grace and eloquence.

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Ross Gustafson (December 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991186109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991186105
  • $15.95 from Amazon. $7.99 Kindle edition

 A few links of interest available on the Web:

 Ross reads Chapter 1


 Ross reads Chapter 7

 Ross describes the book and his experience on TG Forum.

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Part-time T-gurl who discovered Angelas Laptop Lounge a number of years ago and found a new means of self-expression giving a long neglected facet of her personality fresh air and sunshine! Enjoys meeting and socializing others exploring their own horizons.

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