La Cucina: A Novel of Rapture

Lily Prior, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (263p) ISBN 978-0-06-019538-0
Sumptuously appointed, celebratory and sensuous, this debut novel is a mouth-watering blend of commedia dell'arte and Greek tragedy. Prior cooks up a cinematic yarn full of characters so rich you'll fear they're fattening, but readers will be sure to splurge on this saucy tale chock full of sex, recipes and murder. Born in 1915, Rosa Fiore grows up on the family farm in the Sicilian village of Castiglione with six older brothers and her younger Siamese twin siblings, Guera and Pace (war and peace). Her childhood is punctuated by her parents' frequent lovemaking and the ""disappearances"" orchestrated by the local Mafiosi. Rosa spends most of her time in what is really the core of the family, la cucina, the kitchen, which is the outlet for all Rosa's passions except one, her lover, Bartollomeo. After he is murdered when she is 18, she flees to the big city of Palermo. There she becomes a librarian, abstaining from the pleasures of cooking and love for 25 years. One day, a mysterious Englishman named Randolph Hunt comes into the library, claiming to be researching the regional cuisine of Rosa's youth. She calls him simply l'Inglese. Reawakening her dormant spirit, l'Inglese initiates Rosa into the world of sexual and gastronomic abandon. But along with love comes risk of pain. When l'Inglese mysteriously ""disappears,"" can the Mafia be involved? Ironic humor, fantastical subplot twists, attention to touching detail in setting and tone and a delightful gift for characterization make this sexy black comedy an award-winning recipe for pleasure. The combination of sex and food will undoubtedly invite comparisons with Like Water for Chocolate and 8Y Weeks. Add a dash of Goodfellas, and there's something for everyone. Agent, Jean Naggar. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 266 pages - 978-0-552-99909-0
Paperback - 255 pages - 978-1-58724-128-4
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-06-095369-0
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-228349-8
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