A witty hilarious satire of all the A Year in Provence Under the Tuscan Sun books that romanticize the expat life in Europe Once Year in Provence Under the Tuscan Sun books that romanticize the expat life in Europe Once an overly refined Brit goes to Italy to follow his writing muse Please note he is a ghostwriter of biographies for celebrities not a Nobel nominee That fact does not limit his pretensions whatsoever Settling into his uaint abode he is horrified when his new neighbor moves in Also
An Expat She Is Fleeing expat she is fleeing crimelord overprotective family in Eastern Europe Now the hijinks begin a series of wrong conclusions misunderstandings makes for very funny encounters The plot brings in some other wryly drawn characters Hamilton Paterson has a gift for language Footnote Fernet Branca is the most vile liueur I have ever tasted Our Writer Hero uses it as the centerpiece for several bizarre recipes of which he is unduly proud A zany farce populated by oddball characters most of whom become endearing as things unravel Very well crafted and just packed with rich carefully considered language I thoroughly enjoyed the circus and laughed out loud in several spots I admit it I was click baited into this by the headlinetitle and had no idea where the book would take meHowever as I hold Fernet Branca in high esteem the temptation was irresistible and as the saying goes never lay down a temptation it may not come again Once in my eternal youth I travelled through Uganda with a bottle of Fernet Branca held closely to my heart At time of travel a cholera outbreak was closing shops and markets at the leisurely speed of one milehour behind me giving me a day s head start Thus luckily escaping it I am a true believer in the virtues of Fernet Branca preventive as well as healing not to mention it s social aspects That was my personal prologue Under the Tuscan Sun right outside Viareggio on the brink of a ravine there are two old houses with a sometimes fabulous view to the Mediterranean By the sleaziness of the local real estate agent they were both sold off as secluded and tranuil and the neighbor rarely visits Just the ind of house Gerry the somewhat successful ghostwriter and Marta the composer from Voynovia would settle down for It soon turns out that tranuility will be hard to find and the neighbor is very much at homeEven strained from the very beginning both parties are eager to maintain a good neighbor relationship if only the other part would leave me in peace The game is afoot and we get to learn Gerry and Marta from each other s perspective both guessing and imagining what the neighbor is like and both being wrong most of the timeI m not going to spoil your fun for fun it is when two people of very different backgrounds are trying to figure what the other part is up to The very British stiff upper lip collides with an ex Soviet exiled fear the worst from the West and even the pictures are caricatured they do not seem that far from reality In no particular order you will encounter a famous film director a boyband front man a mysterious night flyer and a few who are needed to make the storyline possible Add to this a handful of very interesting recipes recipes in which Fernet Branca will play a not unimportant part Voynian delicacies and some good advice on DIY And not least a generous share of Fernet Branca Sometimes silly sometimes good hud but never boring this meant for entertainment only novel gets a solid 4 stars Rating 375 of fiveThe Publisher Says Gerald Samper an effete English snob has his own private hilltop in Tuscany where he wiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions including ice cream made with garlic and the bitter herb based liueur of the book s title Gerald s idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta on the run from a crime riddled former Soviet republic A series of hilarious misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and disastrous proximityJames Hamilton Paterson s first novel Gerontius won the Whitbread Award He is an acclaimed author of nonfiction books including Seven Tenths Three Miles Down and Playing with Water He currently lives in ItalyMy Review Cooking With Fernet Branca is part of oddball publisher Europa Editions s sinister plot to make Murrikins like me aware of the strange and sinister world of lit rachoor published beyond our shores Muriel Barbery owes her Murrikin presence to them too We all Las Maravillosas Obras de Dios: Historias B�blicas Para La Familia know how that turned outWell before moving any farther along in this review process let me send out the call Does anyonenow how to get hold of wicked double entendre optional actor John Barrowman You شرح جامع مثنوى معنوى know Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood fame He is literally missing theey to Murrikin stardom by not reading optioning and making this book into a movie It suits every single national prejudice we have Eastern Europeans as sinister lawbreaking peasants who eat strangely shaped colored and named things and call them foods like Twinkies Cheetos and Mountain Dew are normal Englishmen as dudis you ll have to read the book for that translation who do eccentric off the wall things with food that are repulsively named and gruesomely concocted spotted dick bubble and sueak and Italians as supercilious effete cognoscenti of world culture who possess the Gerald Samper an effete English snob has his own private hilltop in Tuscany where he whiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions including ice cream made with garlic.
James Hamilton-Paterson à 9 read,
E partly for circumstantial reasons as an antidote to miserable February weather and a miserable February workplace but partly also because Cooking with Fernet Branca has got some very good reviews I liked the prospect of a novel narrated by his and hers unreliable narrators and the Italian setting was another lure for me off piste Italy as well high in the Apuan Alps behind Camaiore north of LuccaIn the event I found CWFB eminently forgettable it s already fading fast although I only finished it a couple of days ago to the extent that it seems rather strange to me that it managed
scrape its way on the Booker longlist in 2004 Presumably it got there by virtue of its themes of art and commerce and compromise levered rather clunkily into the novel through The Professions Of The Odd Couple Narrators professions of the odd couple narrators and Gerald who are respectively a composer of art film music and a ghost writer for celebrities or amanuensis to nuckleheads in Gerald s characteristically scathing phrase What I liked best in CWFB were Gerald s recipes which are a splendid antic sub genre in themselves I also liked Gerald s invented Donizettian opera arias mainly based on libretti found on the labels of DIY products Non disperdere nell ambiente Nuoce gravemente alla salute Gerald s culinary idiom is the crazed love child of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall s and Heston Blumenthal s It combines the finicky one recipe calls for a single stamen of saffron with the ueasily red in tooth and claw Jack Russells are a bugger to bone Alien Pie with its smoked cat base and jaunty buzzard feather garnish is surely Gerald s masterpiece but I also enjoyed such simple treats as Log Jam made from steeped oak twigs a techniue probably lost since the Late Bronze Age not to mention the promising notion of constructing recipes on the basis of consonance Moth Broth Poodles and Noodles Horse Sauce As someone with the good fortune to be amorously paired with an ambitious cook though happily not uite as ambitious as Gerald I have picked up enough familiarity with the world of haute culinary fantasy that Hamilton Paterson is parodying to have a sense of how well done this is Pretentious cooking is an easy enough satirical target everyone does it but it s not easy to do it this well Are you hungry for cat pot pie parrots n carrots horse custard or deep fried miceimage The snobbish British writer and weird cook Gerald Samper has moved into a villa in the Italian mountains Here he finds he has a neighbor Marta whose Russian based family are crime lordsimage This odd couple produce an amazing series misunderstandings and dangerous situations One of Gerald s recipes Sometimes I lie in bed and cheer myself up by gloating over the culinary challenges faced and overcome in the heroic cuisine of yesteryear Maj Gen Sir Aubrey Lutterworth Elements of Raj Cookery 1887 would surely be on every insomniac s bedside table were it not so rare He is full of cunning ways with fruit bats python etc and his recipes breathe a manly simplicity With a sharp dhauji remove the paws of a medium sized panda Discard the animal Soak the claws overnight in a crock of fresh tikkhu juice In the monsoon months it will be found expedient to mount a guard since the smell of tikkhu fermenting is irresistible to both upland tiger and bamboo wolf Written of course at a time when the earth was ours and the bounty thereof Nowadays we have pizza and just look at the state of thingsimage I have not described the weirder recipes to protect readers with delicate stomachs Enjoy I am laughing again as I turn to this on page four The day has dawned bright in every sense and I am making good progress up a ladder painting the itchen the most important room in the house in contrasting shades of mushroom and eau de Nil Anyone can do the white walls and black beams bit but it takes aesthetic confidence and an original mind to make something of a Tuscan mountain farmhouse that isn t merely Frances Mayes It also takes a complete absence of salt of the earth peasants and their immemorial aesthetic input It is all rather heartening and as I work I break cheerfully into song I have been told by friendly cognoscenti that I have a pleasant light tenor and I am just giving a Rossini aria a good run for its money when suddenly a voice shouts up from near my ankles Excuse please I am Marta Is open your door see and I am come I break off at tutte le norme vigenti and look down to find a shock of frizzy hair with an upturned sebaceous face at its centre In this first part the most hilarious two dozen pages in the book we view the world as seen by Englishman Gerald Samper who refers to himself as a Shropshire Samper hunkered down in a cottage about as far off the beaten path as it is possible to get in the Apuan Alps of Northern Italy practicing his trade as a ghost writer working on the autobiography of the lead singer of a boy band but also taking the opportunity to devote time to his passion for cooking The next section is told from Marta s point of view Despite her Borat like butchering of the English language Marta from the fictional ex Soviet country of Voynovia Voy NO via is every bit Gerry s intellectual eual She is a composer and has come to Italy to work on a score for a famou. Oser and disastrous proximityJames Hamilton Paterson's first novel Gerontius won the Whitbread Award He is an acclaimed author of nonfiction books including Seven Tenths Three Miles Down and Playing with Water He currently lives in Ital. Trangest need for vulgarityThe characters in this hilarious romp are the most dysfunctional group of misfits and ignoramuses and stereotypes ever deployed by an English language author They do predictable things yet Hamilton Paterson s deftly ironic cruelly flensing eye and word processor cause readerly glee instead of readerly ennui to ensue The whole bizarre crewthe lumpenproletariat ex Soviet composer the Italian superdirector long past his prime the English snob who refers to Tuscany s glory as Chiantishire and Tuscminstergyrates and shudders and clumps towards a completely foreseeable climactic explosion heeheehee And all the time snarking and judging and learning to depend on each Other In The End The In the end the is nigh for all the established relationships and the dim Fernet Branca hangover hazed outlines of the new configurations are well the English say it bestdireRead it Really do And I dare you not to laugh at these idiots Don do And I dare you not to laugh at these idiots Don be put off by the sheer hideousness of the American edition s cover in all its shades of purple garish grisliness The charm of reading the book is that one needn t look at thatthatillustrationon the cover but inflict it on those not yet In The Know enough to be reading it themselvesAnd seriouslyJohn Barrowman needs to Riding Hard know about this Pass it on This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 30 Unported License Funny and elouent and completely pointless I didn t manage to read this in Mexico though I was told it would be the perfect smart person airplane book but I did pick it up as soon as I got back and it was very much as promised dryly hilarious fast moving clever and a whole lot of fun Cooking With Fernet Branca is dual ly narrated by two next door neighbors living on the Italian countryside Gerard Samper a very proper Englishman and self proclaimed master chef on that soon who makes his money ghostwriting autobiographies for idiotic sports stars and Marta a somewhat bumpkin ish composer from Eastern Europe Voynovia actually who has been commissioned to write a film score for a famous arty and controversial Italian film director So Gerard and Marta are incredibly well drawn characters from her pidgin English and lovingly frazzled appearance to his fastidious mannerisms and constant stream of sarcastic inner monologue They are both a bit unreliable as narrators which is done with great subtlety at times and then become very overt when the narrative switches sides and we get to see the same scene retold through the other s eyes Their relationship is so complex so changing so real that it carries the entire book brilliantly See they hate each other I mean each was told when they bought their houses that their immediate neighbor was uiet and calm and would only be home maybe one month out of the year But Marta s brothereeps stopping by in a helicopter in the middle of the night and Gerard sings horrifically off Arabian Challenge key opera while he avoids work by loudly building fences and other such and each drives the other totally crazy with their drunkenness and terrifying cooking And oh the cooking This is where the book s darkest humor shimmers horrifyingly Gerard who punctuates his sections with explicitly detailed recipes loves to cook And the things he cooks arewellnot for the faint of heart Examples include stuffed udder in butterscotch sauce smoked cat pot pie parrots n carrots horse custard and and In fact one of the subtle ways in which he wages war with Marta is with cuisine m priseur the cuisine of contempt She though unwittingly does about the same thing by always trying to feed him homemade Voynovian treats which are every bit as horrifying to his palate as his deep fried mice would be to hers In any case of course they bicker and fight and scheme and plot and eventually work their way into one another s good graces or less There is much much to this book than I have let on here but I hope I have at leastwhet some appetites as it were because I really think James Hamilton Paterson ought to be betternown I plan to get both the other books he s written about Gerard and Marta tout suite before the fall ends and I am expected to read er serious literature Cooking crime celebritizing collide often hilariously in this satiric tease on rustic retreats Hamilton Patersonwrites with an assured and idiosyncratic comic spiritTwo crackpot neighbors are thrown together in Tuscany a hotspot of distilled lunacy Their mischievousnessbecomes a perfect uncorked stimulantMeet a Brit ghostwriter for celebs who settles in Tusc to write and cook in peace Then a hearty woman composer fr Eastern Europe plumps down nearby to ponder a score for a fawncy Italian film director She happens to have a gangster brother Can they all get along Is there a screwball life after deathwant some eels cooked in chocolate Buon divertimento This is an odd one to judge generally a pretty run of the mill exercise but with moments of real comic genius in my viewI should say that I don t normally read comic novels or intentionally comic novels and reading this one rather reminded me why There can be something hectoring about someone trying constantly to amuse you I also have a very low tolerance of fart jokesI was driven to comedy in this instanc. And the bitter herb based liueur of the book's title Gerald's idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta on the run from a crime riddled former soviet republic A series of hilarious misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever cl.To Scrape Its Way On