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Cooking With Fernet Branca Paperback – 2 Jun 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (2 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571220916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571220915
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Wickedly witty... Anyone who does not add this hilarious divertimento to their summer reading list should be put on a forced diet of Gerald's inimitable Alien Pie.' Michael Dibdin, Guardian; 'A deliciously nasty farce set in [Hamilton-Paterson's] adopted Tuscany... Cooking with Fernet Branca had me laughing out loud and uproariously. All Tuscanites should read it, preferably over a plate of stewed otter chunks in lobster sauce.' Sunday Telegraph; 'Larded with bitter satire and piquant wit, at the expense, often, of its readers and their dreams of Italy... I laughed out loud several times a chapter' The Times"

Book Description

Cooking With Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson satirizes the English obsession with Tuscany with a sharp and merciless wit. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
No, dear reader, this is not a recipe book. Oh, what fun I`ve had browsing some of the reviews on this page, bemusedly aghast at how some people will always miss the point. If how funny a book is can be measured by how much laughter it evokes, then this is the funniest novel I have ever read, and I`ve read it twice, and am `saving it up` to read a third time.
James Hamilton-Paterson is one of Britain`s best kept secrets, a truly original novelist who never writes the same book twice, so to speak - until he hit upon the premise for this series of comic novels - and whose work ought to be far better known. (His novels Gerontius, The Bell Boy and Loving Monsters are wonderful. He lives abroad and doesn`t play the publicity game, so you often have to seek out his books.)
Gerald Samper, in all his campery, is a brilliant comic creation, as is his exasperating neighbour Marta, an East European from a fictitious country, and an equally hilarious figure, impervious to the tantrums and cynicism of her opera-caterwauling neighbour Gerald. These opera arias, which he sings in full voice while cooking his revolting, baroque recipes - which get more outlandish in each chapter - are from wholly made-up operas. I was fooled for a while, then realised that the author was having some glorious fun at my delighted expense.
I repeat: this is not a `serious novel`, a travel book, or a book of recipes. It`s an uproariously
funny pastiche of the "Under A Tuscan Son" (one of many witty puns in the book) type of travel book, and a comic novel the like of which I thought writers had forgotten how to write any more.
The follow-up, Amazing Disgrace, is quite funny, but not a patch on this highly original, utterly mad, laugh-out-loud farce.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is written as alternating chapters by the two protagonists, describing their own view of the same bizarre events. Gerry, effete,witty,with a well-developed sense of the ridiculous, but takes himself and his culinary work rather seriously. Marta is an eccentric Eastern European, living amongst the beautiful Tuscan hills in happy squalor, whilst she tries to come to terms with modern technology to help compose a film score. You can't help but grow fond of these two characters as they merrily score points off each other.Very cleverly written, like watching a good film.
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Format: Paperback
I was given this for Christmas, and found it an excellent antidote to the January blues! The narrative flow from two points of view, with overlaps, is a terrific comic device. Gerald is a great character, in both senses of the word, with a truly witty turn of phrase and some hilarious one-liners. I loved his attitude towards his ex-pat bachelor lifestyle, and of course his outrageous cuisine (don't worry - it's not a cookbook!). Marta is perhaps slightly less rounded as a character, but it doesn't matter too much as the whole book is such fun to read. Deep and meaningful it isn't, but if you've done the demanding bit and it's time for some light relief, this is for you. I'll really miss it now I've finished it. More please!
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By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cooking With Fernet Branca was long listed for the 2004 Booker Prize and won the BBC's "People's Booker" title. However, Chris Smith, the chair of the panel that year, dismissed it as being "a bit of a one-trick pony". This seems terribly unfair.

The novel is a comic farce, set in Tuscany, where Gerald Samper, a British ghostwriter of sporting 'auto'biographies has set up a pastiche of the rural idyll. He writes by day and cooks by night - he believes himself to be quite the gastronome and intersperses his narratives with recipes that abound with ludicrously large or ludicrously small quantities of ingredients, many of which are ... um... exotic. Gerald is disappointed to find that he has a neighbour, Marta, a Voynovian composer of songs. The humour, chiefly, revolves around the mismatch between the two characters' self perception and their perception of each other. James Hamilton-Paterson manages to keep this up throughout the novel, with neither character getting stale. The more we get to know them, the more we want to know more.

Both Gerald and Marta introduce side-characters who are all, in their own ways, just as grotesque. We have Italian film directors, boy band stars, Eastern European oligarchs, playboys driving sportscars. It's perfect light holiday reading, but working on a number of levels. It's really very clever.

If Cooking With Fernet Branca has a weak spot, it is a rather rushed and chaotic ending - yet not one that is terribly closely related to the farcical misunderstandings. It's more just chaos for its own sake and the novel might have been stronger without it. But this is a minor blemish on an otherwise rather wonderful comic novel. I shall look forward to rejoining Gerald in the sequels in the near future.

Right now I feel inspired to go out and buy a bottle of Fernet Branca. If I don't like drinking it, I could always use it to make ice cream.
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Format: Paperback
It is rare that a book makes me laugh out loud and this one did, almost all the way through. The two main characters are brilliant; Gerry is almost hateful but we can't help liking him. I can't recommend this book highly enough,it's a must-read for anyone with a sense of humour.
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