Anne Korkeakivi has written An Unexpected Guest, and it is hard to put down. Not excellent, but a good read.
I was bothered by something in it, an echo of something else, which resonated while I was reading about the asparagus...The heroine of the story lives in Paris, the wife of a British diplomat. She is preparing a formal dinner which could be a crucial event in her husband's career. Her ally is the cook, who is rather a scary person, given to moods and sensitivities. She might sabotage the whole thing. At least the heroine thinks so.
And then I remembered: this whole scenario is Proust. In A la Recherche, he writes sensually about the long purple-tinted asparagus stalks. There too a gifted cook is at work behind the scenes. She is nasty to those below her in the pecking order, as Mathilde is here.
I am left wondering - I don't have Proust to hand. I don't really mind, am just glad that I found out where the niggle came from.
Another review mentions a similarity to Mrs Dalloway: that did not ring any bells, except for the fact that it all takes place in one day - no harm in that, a pleasing device.