"Two ladies wish to find a cook." That's how the narrator of this tale finds his way to Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein's kitchen in Paris in the beginning of the 1930's. Historically, Stein and Toklas had two Vietnamese cook. Truong picks that idea and runs with it. This cook, exiled from his country, his family, exiled from life tells us of his Madames' lives, the people that surrounds them. This cook is not the most reliable of narrator and Truong does create a character that I found more interesting the second time I read it. He is not ashamed of who he is and ultimately he knows who he is. Who he chooses to be. Everything hinges on names. On identity. No one is who he or she says she is. Not the cook, his lover, the Sunday man, his father, not even the sailor he met on the boat that took him to France. Not even Stein's manuscript. The quality of the words, the structure and the period Truong chose to write about for her first novel is well done. It's all in touches of grey. More like 3 3/4 stars.