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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Amazing Disgrace
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on 17 April 2017
Loving this book. The writing us a treat to read.
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on 3 January 2007
If not as hilarious as cooking with Fernet Branca the further adventures of the rather lovable expat, Gerald Samper, are still great fun with his queeny remarks and (quite amusing) puns. In Fernet Branca Marta's alternate narrative doubled the humour in an event, Amazing Disgrace with its single narrative has more difficulty hiding a thin storyline. The fourth star is purely for the dinner party near the end, very dreamrealistic.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 1 September 2010
The book: this is the second instalment in the story of Gerald Samper, epicure, biographer to vapid celebrities and purveyor of wicked comments. From his Tuscany hilltop home he is looking for new employment, and is hoping a famous composer will agree to be written up, so Gerry can emerge from the trough of celebrity ghostwriting. Instead, another sports personality offers herself... with the food ranging from vindaloo blancmange to the Robert Mugabe approach to cookery, with Gerry's sexuality coming to the fore (so to speak) and with the scene ranging from Gerry's home ground to England, this is more of the same sardonic observation of Life - but different.

The writer: Hamilton-Patterson is an amazingly versatile writer, tackling novels, Egyptian mummification, the World's Oceans and philosophy - and much more. There are three Samper novels so far: Cooking with Fernet Branca, this one, and Rancid Pansies. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the next instalment...

My opinion: less tightly plotted than the Fernet Branca book; and I miss the alternating viewpoints of Gerald and Martha. This is all in Gerry's voice; and pretty bitchy he can be too, the old dudi. The philosophy of food, synaesthaesia, wicked jokes, oceanography, many abstruse and fascinating facts, observations on the cult of celebrity and on growing old and the need to see stars where one lives... a wide-ranging book, a joy for connaisseurs. And Gerald Samper, of the Shropshire Sampers, is a towering protagonist who can make you feel sorry for him and have you howling with laughter on the same page. Not many people can do that, to me. Not as good as the first book - but brilliant.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 4 January 2007
For those who read and enjoyed Cooking with Fernet Branca, this will be a welcome sequel. Gerald Samper, is still living in Tuscany and ghost writing biographies for well-known sports people, but this time his subject is Millie Cleat, a particularly obnoxious round-the-world sailor. Samper loathes his subject (as usual), apparently hating sport in all its forms, while being eternally doomed to write about it - a situation in which he finds his personal hell.

During her voyage, Millie Cleat manages to sabotage a hugely expensive international maritime expedition, but sailing right through the middle of the fleet of scientific vessels at a critical time causing them to abort their researches. She is blithly unaware of what she has done, but having irked the scientists, they themselves try to undermine her success by making a total fool of her, via Gerald Samper.

Samper is as precious as before, being a lover of exotic recipes (insects and obscure offal being among his recipe ingredients). He is pretentious and generally contemptuous of his fellow human beings, with few redeeming features, other than an acid tongue and a wicked sense of humour.

There are many humerous episodes in the book, some of which make the book dangerous reading for users of public transport. However, the humour is rather rarified and would not appeal to everybody, as the book is quite dense and requires a degree of concentration if it is to be fully appreciated.

As usual, I find myself noting the similarities between the Gerald Samper of James Hamilton Paterson and the Tarquin Winot of John Lanchester in his book, "The Debt to Pleasure". Both writers use the device of providing esoteric recipes in their novels, and the characters are so similar as to be almost indistinguishable. However, Paterson seems to be developing his character beyond his debut and I look forward to further novels in the same series.
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on 4 July 2011
Excellent sequel to "Cooking with Fernet Branca".

The tone is similar, perhaps even more erudite, disenchanted, prickly. Samper's self-experimentation and other set-pieces left broad smiles on my face. Like the first, not belly-laugh territory, but your mileage may differ.

Beautifully written. Lots of bon mots. (Bons mots probably - my French cells are past their expiry date.) I found myself going back over passages (which is not my wont), wondering how he does it.

I look forward to the next instalment (and not just because it's in the future.)

** Spoiler alert **

Well, Samper is out pretty completely in this one. I thought the earlier volume left us a bit unsure where he stood on these matters, even though there were some pointers. Tastefully done, thankfully, and I liked the passage where he told us why there would be no "Romantic" bits.

His interaction with the rich and famous is well-done again. Nanty makes a later reappearance, as does Marta.

As always, fate ensures that just as he seems set to sail into safe harbour, adverse winds blow him out to sea again. Which leaves room for a sequel to the sequel, I suppose.
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on 21 June 2008
If you read and loved 'Cooking with Fernet Branca' you will undoubtedly welcome the return of a hapless and comic Gerald Samper (this time swigging Prosecco) and his recipes, still very funny but somewhat darker and even nastier
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on 23 May 2013
I picked up the first of this trilogy by accident and was hooked by the end of the first page. Laugh out loud hilarious, not to be read in the middle of the night with a partner trying to sleep beside you. All three have fantastic set piece passages that I thought I knew where he was going, and then he went further.

I cannot wait for the next instalment.
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on 22 December 2007
If you have read and enjoyed Cooking with Fernet Branca, you will be disappointed with this sequel. There are a few quite funny passages but most of the book is tedious beyond belief. Such a shame because the plot could be very funny if it were not for Gerald Sampers thoughts which drone on and on and in the end you just don't care. It is only peppered with a couple of Geralds recipes which made the first book so hilarious and instead of his love hate relationship with his neighbour we have accounts of his 'coming out'. You do have to read it carefully though because there are some real gems hidden away which you might miss when you try and skip a few paragraphs!
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on 13 October 2014
Lovely writer - ascerbic and very funny!
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on 30 January 2011
Influenced by some of the favourable reviews below, I bought this book. I found it weak, unfunny and unreadable, and I can persevere with most books. It's going to the charity shop.
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