Cooking With Fernet Branca Paperback – 2 Jun 2005
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"'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"
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read tie several times before and each time find it hilarious. A good combination of hearing the same story from two sides. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Lally
A favourite book. Whacky, witty. JHP uses his weird recipes, odd characters and love of music, especially Opera, to develop a hilarious romp up in the hills above Viareggio. Read morePublished 13 months ago by traveltrepid
I really enjoyed this book - as a foodie who watches all the food television available, this book exposes the snobbery and inflated importance of dishes in a very funny, sharp and... Read morePublished 14 months ago by p parker
IT WASNT WHAT i CALL A GOOD COOK BOOK i WONT BE PICKING IT UP AGAIN WASTE OF MONEYPublished 22 months ago by Mrs. mavis rudge
Deleted this one quite quickly just not my thing despite sounding promising, I am sure some people would enjoy it just not mePublished on 22 Feb. 2014 by Ginnie's mum