Patricia Schonstein, Author . Morrow $24.95 (223p) ISBN 978-0-06-056242-7

A colorful expatriate neighborhood of Italian Jews in post-apartheid Capetown is the setting for this charming if familiar novel of food, love and magic. Flamboyant Pasquale, a gifted baker and sausage maker, and Primo, a modest soothsayer, have been best friends since childhood. Even Primo's marriage to their other childhood friend (and Pasquale's lover), the beautiful Beatrice, doesn't pull them apart. But as the novel opens, Beatrice, after 20 years of marriage, has succumbed to Pasquale's entreaties and left her husband. Heartbroken, Primo lashes out with a halfhearted curse or two before lapsing into depression. His curses play out to spoil Pasquale's much-loved cooking and summon the Devil (surprise: he's a benign, beautiful angel). In addition to the love triangle, the novel reveals the histories of Pasquale's and Primo's families and the lives and loves of other neighborhood residents—Pasquale's sister, the brothel owner; her rival, the seamstress; the seamstress's lovers; the tattoo artist; the plastic surgeon; the venerated, poker-playing local doctor. While many sweet details of community life and a meticulous, respectful attention to the skills of all trades brighten the novel, the themes and language are familiar; the conclusion brings together many elements of the characters' fates but fails to imbue them with meaning. Still, those who prefer their world literature with a light touch will likely find much to enjoy. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/25/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-203142-6
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-06-056243-4
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