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. At one point, about three-quarters through, I was laughing so much I feared for my health, let alone my sanity. If you lack a sense of the absurd, or if you despise puns (the novel is packed with some of the best you`ll ever read) then stay away from this camp, laughter-drenched saga. Again, the funniest novel I`ve ever read.