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The Reluctant Cannibals [Paperback]

Ian Flitcroft
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

1 Oct 2013
Shortlisted for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Irish Writers' Centre Novel Fair Award Winner

When a group of food-obsessed academics at Oxford University form a secret dining society, they happily devote themselves to investigating exotic and forgotten culinary treasures. Until a dish is suggested that takes them all by surprise.

Professor Arthur Plantagenet has been told he has a serious heart problem and decides that his death should not be in vain. He sets out his bizarre plan in a will, that on his death, tests the loyalty of his closest friends, the remaining members of this exclusive dining society.

A dead Japanese diplomat, police arrests and charges of grave robbing. These are just some of the challenges these culinary explorers must overcome in tackling gastronomy's ultimate taboo: cannibalism.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press Ltd (1 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909593591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909593596
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A truly compelling read with a shocking climax. Well written and incredibly descriptive, the author of this particular work has clearly done homework about the field of gastronomy to produce a wonderful and memorable read. --Publishers Weekly

'I was going to say a brilliant debut novel, but it needs no qualification. A brilliant novel, full stop.' --Paula Leyden, winner of the 2011/12 Eilís Dillon Award

About the Author

Ian Flitcroft studied medicine at Oxford University, and then went on to complete a D.Phil in Neurophysiology. During these 9 years, he started developing a fascination with all things culinary and on finishing his doctorate, gained dining rights at Pembroke College as a John Lockett Memorial Scholar.

Ian has travelled around the world twice (once in each direction) and sampled many of the world's strangest foods en-route from snakes and scorpions, to a soup in Thailand that required all his anatomical knowledge to deduce its contents. Ian is a long term member of the Slow Food Movement in Ireland, a collector of old culinary-related books and an avid cook and wine collector. Ian now works as a consultant eye surgeon in Dublin, where he has lived for over 10 years. The Reluctant Cannibals is Ian's first novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SERVED WITH RELISH 5 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
1969. St Jerome's College, Oxford. What now for the exclusive Gastronomic Science Fellows' top secret termly banquets? A Japanese diplomat guest has inconsiderately dropped dead after sampling fugu. Determined to protect the university's good name, the humourless Vice-Chancellor actively seeks any excuse to ban. The bequest of their most flamboyant (and corpulent) member thus poses a problem. Always they have sought unusual new tastes. Professor Arthur Plantagenet's will stipulates a unique contribution to a feast. This could cause them to break the law. Will they play safe or go out on a limb?

Ian Flitcroft is having fun. Many readers will too, especially those who like to linger over meals, here many courses of exotic delicacies described in loving detail. (How are they financed, one cannot help wondering.)

There is much to appeal: eccentric characters, witty exchanges, much that is bizarre (what, for example, hampers the organ as it tries a certain note?), even a couple of ghosts. More down-to-earth are certain characters to loathe, especially obnoxious Hon. Matthew Kingsley-Hampton. Someone greatly to like is young innocent Patrick Eccles, overdue for better times. Also appealing is bowler-hatted head porter Mr. Potts, unflappable and immensely resourceful.

So much opulence! Those with humbler tastes are also catered for, details provided how best to poach and scramble eggs.

Relax and enjoy. Chuckles in plenty. Lots of laughs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guess who we are having for dinner? 15 Mar 2014
By Tommy Dooley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was drawn to this book by the truly splendid title, but don't think this is a tale of desperate survivors of an air crash or some such incident; no this is set amid the enchanting spires of Oxford University. We meet the members of the dangerously exclusive, `Shadow Faculty of Gastronomic Science. This is a dining society of Oxford Dons who make it their life's aim to turn gastronomy into the science they believe it truly is and to taste all that the world of culinary delights has to offer - and drink a fair bit too.

Then one of the members - Professor Arthur Plantagenet gets the unwelcome news of his sudden and unexpected demise due to a dicky heart. Undeterred by this quite catastrophic news, he sees it as a way to further push the envelope of culinary frontiers - and comes up with a plan. This he entrusts into a meticulous and detailed will of what is to be done with his `remains' once he has shuffled off his `mortal coil'; oh and he leave a rather generous legacy too - or should that be leg-acy?

Soon the doctors are proven right and his plan swings into action, as well as the normal directions one of the more galling parts is that he wants to know what `we' taste like and he is only too ready to donate his body, or at least a bit of it, to the field of gastronomic inquiry. That's right he wants them to eat him - and make some tasting notes too. What follows is a tale of subterfuge, modest rebellion, lots of eating, some marvellous recipes and some rather ungallant behaviour by certain individuals.

I really enjoyed this book, Ian Flitcroft has a way with words that is almost Wodehouse in that the humour is both dry and full of wit and insight. The characters really come alive - except for Professor Plantagenet of course - and the story is totally addictive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Kitty
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When an Oxford professor discovers he has a serious medical condition, the university's secret dining society have the chance to enjoy the gastronomic experience of a lifetime...

This book had me absolutely hooked from its opening chapter, which begins in appropriately gastro-horror style with the death of a senior Japanese diplomat after eating a dish of ineptly self-prepared fugu. From this attention-grabbing opening, we're taken into a beautifully shadowy world of rare wines, unusual foods, bizarre dining practices and moderately insane academics - all utterly focused on their stomachs.

The writing is elaborate and evocative, with foodie descriptions that are almost disturbingly luscious. The characters are definitely more stereotypes than well-rounded personalities, but that's absolutely right for the style of the book; an elaborate Porterhouse-ish satire on the insular world of Oxford colleges. I don't want to spoil a narrative that's heavily plot-driven so it's hard to say much more about this book other than that I loved it...but if you, like me, enjoy novels that are right on the borderline between black comedy and horror, this is a definite recommendation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average dining club 29 Dec 2013
By Book fiend VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A beautifully crafted novel - he is clearly a gifted writer and deserves the plaudits he has won. This is a deliciously (in every sense of the word) funny and slightly whacky book, beautifully observed and with an easy flowing style that carries you through the story. You can't wait to find out the denouement - which doesn't disappoint - but the plot line is far from obvious and the characters are given a life beyond the page they are written on. A highly recommended and entertaining read - there is nothing tasteless or unpleasant about it and you would have to be squeamish in the extreme not to enjoy the antics of the members of the dining club at the heart of the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Reluctantly read this book
This novel is peopled with eccentric, colourful characters and filled with little nuggets of humour throughout this tale of a motley collection of Oxford University Academics, who... Read more
Published 12 days ago by book fan
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Eating People is wrong'
St Jerome's College, Oxford is home to the Shadow Faculty of Gastronomic Science, a small group of dons who seek to scale the heights of gastronomic pleasure at each of their... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Eleanor
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable and beautifully crafted
I think I liked this book a lot, but there was something almost a bit too clever and definitely rather overblown for me to really love it. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Dave C
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reluctant Cannibals
This debut novel is darkly and deliciously disturbing. Set in Oxford University during 1969 and 1970, it features the Shadow Faculty of Gastronomic Science; the members of which... Read more
Published 1 month ago by S Riaz
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable, ebullient and entertaining read - just as long as you...
Ian Flitcroft's unusual first novel is certainly darkly comic, full of vigour, and often, absolutely disgusting as it cheerfully, gleefully, crashes across all sorts of inbuilt... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lady Fancifull
5.0 out of 5 stars A great summer read
Super original and fantastically written book. The story is about a group of Oxford Dons who have a secret dining society where things get progressively from bad to worse. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ioannis Glinavos
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to the hype
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get into it. The prospect was really interesting, and as a massive foodie I was really looking forward to it, but it just... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer May
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark humour at its finest!
The Reluctant Cannibals centres around a secret gastronomic club which is frequented by a number of the academics of Oxford University. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sarah Durston
4.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Feast
The premise of this book is what attracted me to it as well as admittedly being a fan of all things Hannibal Lecter. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Angela Lovelace
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Beautifully Written and Enthralling
Out of all the books that I've read this year (about thirty so far), this is the one that I'm looking forward to re-reading the most. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Winston Smith
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