02-02-2009 12:35 AM
In 1498, Luciano, a street urchin in Venice, tries to steal a pomegranate, but is caught up by the ear and dragged back to the palace kitchen of the Venetian doge by the palace chef, who will make Luciano his apprentice. The boy is quickly caught up in his strange new world, the intrigue and gossip of palace life, and especially with the rumors of a magical book possessing the worlds most desired secrets, like alchemy, immortality, and love.
I'm Rachel Kubie, and I'll be your moderator for the month. I'm very excited to be reading such a rich and intriguing novel with you. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
02-12-2009 04:01 PM
02-12-2009 08:12 PM
I too have slipped down the narrow passages of Venice until the piazza San Marcos opened up before me. Staring at the Doge's palace, flashbacks of Elle's book filled my thoughts. What a cool theme. I love the story.
I looked for the nunnery, but nay, no beauties there did I see...
John Wolf - author
02-14-2009 01:08 PM
Ah, the nunnery! I'm afraid that was entirely made up. I've seen lots of medieval and Renaissance monasteries and convents in Europe and the one in the book was an amalgam of what I know and what I imagined a Venetian nunnery might look like. Having survived 12 years of Catholic school—Franciscan nuns and Jesuit priests— it wasn't difficult to populate my fictitious convent with equally fictitious nuns. Many of them are still alive and well in my memory.
On a recent trip to Venice I visited a medieval monastery on the island of St. George. The monks there used to restore books and now it's a school for aspiring publishers. Quite appropriate, I thought. And sure enough, there was a wall and a cloister and that feeling of apartness.
02-18-2009 12:17 PM
I want to tell you how much I've enjoyed your book. It's a wonderful read! The characters move the story along so well and with such grace. The food metaphors made my mouth water and yet there is so much more to the story. Could there be a sequel?
02-18-2009 05:56 PM
Yes, there could, but not immediately. My next book is set in India and it's almost finished. But other readers have asked about a sequel and I'd enjoy revisiting this story and these characters. I think the theme of the sacredness of knowledge is timeless and bears repeating.
If I were to begin a sequel now, I think Francesca, the notorious Widow of Verona, would be the protagonist. Her character has lots of room for development and she might just decide to be the first female chef.
02-22-2009 10:30 PM
I think there are two things about travel that inspire me. First, the sense of displacement frees me up to dream. It's like being unmoored from everything familiar and it kicks creativity into high gear.
Then there's the culture, and the people, and the customs, and the smells, and the tastes, and the sights. It's all food for thought and grist for the mill. Travel widens my worldview and I find it fascinating to see how our shared humanity is expressed in different cultures. Underneath the cultural masks, we have more in common than not.