The International Book Club of New Orleans read both of these books.
We liked reading about writing about food that Pierre Arthen wrote about in Gourmet Rhapsody. As a person, he was one of the worst in literature. My personal theory is that since he is an Arab, he had a inferiority complex. He disguises it by becoming the best food critic in France.
Barbery's second novel is about all the people who live in a building in Paris. Arthen is one of the tenants, but he dies early on in this novel.
Rene'e Michel is the concierge. A very grumpy lady with one friend, she reads a lot but passes herself as an idiot. Kakuro Ozu moves into Arthen's apartment and notices how much she knows about literature and history and they become friends.
Rene'e also becomes friends with Paloma Josse, a lonely pre-teen who doesn't feel there is anymore to learn in life. Paloma sees a boring future ahead for her.
The novel alternates between Paloma's and Rene'e's stories but their voices sound the same. I had to look at the title of the chapter to see who was talking. Other book club members had trouble also.
All the members felt that Kakuro's friendship with Rene'e was improbable. None of us liked the ending!
We see a future for Barbery; there are still more tenants in the condo and more life stories.