Any God Will Do

Novel by Richard Condon
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Any God Will Do is the sixth book by the American satirist and political novelist Richard Condon, first published by Random House in 1966. After the almost unmitigated grimness of his previous book, An Infinity of Mirrors, it was a return to his more usual light-heartedness as displayed in works such A Talent for Loving. Although its theme is madness, unusually for Condon it has little of the almost gratuitous scenes of violence and sudden deaths that punctuate most of his books. The only notable instance is that of a haughty French sommelier who shoots himself at an aristocratic dinner party when he discovers that an American guest is indeed correct in asserting a great white Burgundy can accompany young spring lamb. The story, which takes place from 1918 to 1922 in New York City, Switzerland, and London, is simple and straightforward by Condon's standards. Francis Vollmer, an orphan of unknown parentage, is raised by a wealthy New York banker and develops an overwhelming obsession with the notion that he is the offspring of noble parentage, possibly even an illicit union of Kaiser Wilhelm and Queen Mary. Flitting in and out of overt madness, he spends the course of the book trying to determine his parentage. Except for The Manchurian Candidate, all of Condon's previous books had displayed a robust interest in food, menus, and gourmandizing; here that interest is carried to its highest level yet: Vollmer teaches himself to become a French chef of a professional level, and much of the book is concerned with the delights of the table.
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