Since childhood, Rosa Fiore -- daughter of a sultry Sicilian matriarch and her hapless husband -- found solace in her family's kitchen. La Cucina, the heart of the family's lush estate, was a place where generations of Fiore women prepared sumptuous feasts and where the drama of extended family life was played out around the age-old table.
When Rosa was a teenager, her own cooking became the stuff of legend in this small community that takes pride in the bounty of its landscape and the eccentricity of its inhabitants. Rosa's infatuation with culinary arts was rivaled only by her passion for a young man, Bartolomeo, who, unfortunately, belonged to another. After their love affair ended in tragedy, Rosa retreated first into her kitchen and then into solitude, as a librarian in Palermo. There she stayed for decades, growing corpulent on her succulent dishes, resigned to a loveless life.
Then, one day, she meets the mysterious chef, known only is I'Inglese, whose research on the heritage of Sicilian cuisine leads him to Rosa's library, and into her heart. They share one sublime summer of discovery, during which I'lnglese awakens the power of Rosa's sensuality, and together they reach new heights of culinary passion. When I'Inglese suddenly vanishes, Rosa returns home to the farm to grieve for the loss of her second love. In the comfort of familiar surroundings, among her, growing family, she discovers the truth about her loved ones and finds her life transformed once more by the magic of her cherished Cucina.
Exuberant and touching, La Cucina is a magical evocation of life's mysterious seasons and the treasures found in each one. It celebrates family, food, passion, and the eternal rapture of romance.
Succulent saga...with a sensuous tone, a folkloric narrative style and a most original set of characters, La Cucina could well satisfy the hungriest of appetites.
Reminiscent of Laura Esquivel and John Irving, mixed with a healthy dollop of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Prior's debut is clever, untamed, funny, and at times shocking.
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.
Valerie Martin, author of Mary Reilly and Italian Fever
“La Cucina is a heady concoction, like a long meal with relatives, by turns funny, frightening, sad, and joyful. I've rarely seen a first novel of such originality and confidence.”
Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Blackberry Wine
A wonderful novel; a festival of life and all its pleasures, bursting with passion and extravagant color. Similar in some ways to Like Water for Chocolate, this novel celebrates love, the family, the body and food with a joyous, hopeful exuberance.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Maria T. Miranda Reader I enjoyed this novel because it represents all cultural identities reflecting on food, family, morals, economic status, and yes love & romance that most people like the character Rosa seem to think is impossible. Although, I am not Italian, I love... Read More
Rated of 5
by Carol Ann Green
This was a laugh out loud book. I don't know when I have enjoyed a quick read more. Rosa has all the innocence and comfort within her skin that we all wish we had. A more than perfect example of the disfunctional family. And aren't they... Read More
Rated of 5
This book is a colorful story of true Sicilian life. La Cucina is a truly captivating and beautiful story. I haven't read such a wonderful story in years. I look forward to enjoying yet another novel from Ms. Prior in the near future.
Rated of 5
by Patricia Floro
For the first time in 10 years, I have found a book that I could not put down. I am of Italian decent and married a man right off the boat from Italy. With each page I was reading parts of my life and about my family. I laughed until it hurt, I... Read More
Rated of 5
This book was phenomenal,especially due to the fact that it is a fiction and cookbook combined!Yes, I managed to make one of her fabulous dishes.The story is wonderfully humane, it reads easily and makes you want more.It captures your... Read More
A timeless novel of a straitlaced village's awakening to joy and sensuality - every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere.
Written in a lush, lyrical style, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment. The reading guide includes a number of recipes to share with friends and family!
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