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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average dining club
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...
Published 6 months ago by Book fiend

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to my appetite but there is a strong appeal
The story is about a group of "gastronomic scientists" at Oxford who meet up once a term to eat amazing food that they and their guests have developed. One member finds out he is going to die soon and so aims to have his own human meat on the menu after his death.
Revelling in the intelligent writing is a pleasure with this book. The words and phrases are...
Published 6 months ago by Janie U


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average dining club, 29 Dec 2013
By 
Book fiend "Enthusiast" (Petersfield, Hampshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SERVED WITH RELISH, 5 May 2014
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 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 (London, England) - See all my reviews
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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. An absolute joy of a read from start to finish. You should also read the notes at the back as they add to and explain even more of the motivation for this original and rewarding piece of literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to my appetite but there is a strong appeal, 28 Dec 2013
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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The story is about a group of "gastronomic scientists" at Oxford who meet up once a term to eat amazing food that they and their guests have developed. One member finds out he is going to die soon and so aims to have his own human meat on the menu after his death.
Revelling in the intelligent writing is a pleasure with this book. The words and phrases are beautiful and deserve to be savoured.
It is clear from the start that the author is a huge food lover who is indulging his passion in writing this book. Whilst there is a lot of good here the enthusiasm for the food is too strong and overpowers the plot. It's a shame as the story is a great idea.
I would recommend this for real foodie people who should read slowly and digest gradually. Anyone looking for a well developed plot and realistic characters should avoid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All delicious and disturbing and just a little bit rotten, like a really good Stilton, 11 Oct 2013
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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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2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to the hype, 21 July 2014
By 
Jennifer May (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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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 wasn't for me. I think a lot of it was because it's set in 1969 in Oxford University and there aren't many female characters - all the main characters are old male professors, and I just had no one to relate to, so I ended up bored stiff and actually dreading having to read it.

Admittedly, there were some funny moments where I foud myself chuckling, but I found it rather dry. I only got 3/4 of the way through before I just couldn't take it anymore and had to give up. I found that I didn't even care what happened to the characters anymore.

Probably a good read for a huge foodie (definately not a good idea to read it while feeling rather queasy, which I made the mistake of doing once) or someone who doesn't mind the lack of female characters, but unfortunately not one for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Beautifully Written and Enthralling, 23 May 2014
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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. It's wittily written and engaging, with subjects close to my heart - food, manners, tradition, politics, religion. All get lightly flambéed here, and served up with a twist of Macabre. Cannibalism isn't something I'd ever considered for my bucket list and, after reading this book, I don't think I'll be adding it any time soon!
It is clear that the author is very familiar with, and loves, Oxford (this shines through in his writing) but it plays second fiddle to his love for food. If you aren't a lover of good food, and if you don't particularly enjoy the macabre then you might want to give this a miss. For everyone else, tuck in. Bon appétit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the drama and opulence surrounding the ultimate foodie indulgence., 29 April 2014
By 
JK "Julie K." (UK) - See all my reviews
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Darkly comic and highly quirky novel set around an exclusive dining club in deepest, darkest Oxford. There's nothing about this plot that should work and yet it does and it works quite well. One thing in it's favour is the current trend for fine dining and the growing popularity of supper clubs. It's very current in the weirdest sort of way.

So; members and associates of the exclusive and secretive Oxford dining club begin to die. Sometimes because they've pushed themselves to the limit of gluttony but not always. What do you do if you're a gastronome looking for a new fix?. Recycle. The move from Gastronome to main corse only takes a willing chef.

The author handles the 'foody' elements well and his gastronomic detailing adds a huge amount of colour and opulence to the plot. It's certainly the preparation and eating of food that brings everything together. Not always pretty but certainly entertaining.

The characters are a wacky bunch of the 'elite' who range in complexity from the unlikeable to the completely bizarre. They're not particularly well developed but don't need to be. The plot is driven by the idea of cannibalism and the reaction of people committing it, and reading about it, rather than who or what they mean to one another.

This author has a light touch and even the regular peppering of crisp, dark humour is so subtle it's almost understated.

Did I enjoy the read?. Yes, mostly. I would have preferred the author to fully explore his darker themes and felt at times he was unwilling to go the full distance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Review contains extreme enthusiasm and hyperbole., 17 Mar 2014
By 
Book Critic (UK) - See all my reviews
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I adored every second I spent reading this dark comedy about a secret Oxford dining club, known more for losing its members and guests to extreme pushing of gastronomic boundaries, than for the excellence of its unusual menus ("What a bloody marvellous way to die" opines a member, still seated at the table with the corpse cooling nearby). The tale is very Tom Sharpe but the comedy is less obvious, the style crisper, sharper, the writing (and I say this as a huge fan of TS) better, with foody description more lushly lavish than a truffled turkey. The characterisation is a particular delight; the comedy has a light touch; the plot is deliciously detailed, delightfully strange. I read it in 3 days, never wanted to put it down and was incredibly sorry when it ended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book defines dark humour!, 2 Feb 2014
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(This review does not contain any plot spoilers)
I chose this book with not some trepidation. Cannibalism, or to use the formal word as per Professor Plantagenet: anthropophagy is not a topic that many (or any to my very limited knowledge) authors would treat lightly. But Flintcroft has created a piece of literature that is as full of the most delicious bon mots as it is a showcase of that most wonderful English trait - eccentricity. Now maybe it's just me and the fact that I can take social mores out of the equation but, I actually did find myself considering the request put forward to the Shadow Faculty of Gastronomic Science from a purely scientific and gastronomical perspective.. and that's all I am going to say about the premise for fear of taking anything away from your reading pleasure! Flintcroft's writing is a combination of Heston Blumenthal's scientific culinary wizardry coupled with the comedic style of P.G. Wodehouse with the most delicious language used by those ultimate echelons of academia - the Oxford Professors.
Don't read this if you have a weak stomach. Do read this if you are irreverent, appreciate a profoundly dark sense of humour and adore a book with the most delicious mastery of the English Language.
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