Cover image for The discovery of chocolate
Title:
The discovery of chocolate
Author:
Runcie, James, 1959-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
Physical Description:
264 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060184810
Format :
Book

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Material Type
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Status
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Library
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Summary

Summary

A young Spaniard sets off for South America in 1518 with Cortes and the Conquistadors, propelled by his love's declaration that she will not marry until he returns with a special treasure -- a symbol of their love -- that no man or woman has ever before received. But during his travels he falls in love with Ignacia, a native woman who introduces him to the secrets of the most delicious drink he has ever tasted: chocolate. Their passionate affair is cut short by the chaotic conquest of Mexico.

So begins this charming and adventurous story about the magical substance we now know as chocolate, and of the passions and obsessions it has inspired from its earliest days. Our hero later discovers that his lover had secretly added the elixir to life to his chocolate drink. This allows him to travel through history: to Paris during the time of the Revolution, to Vienna in the nineteenth century, to late Victorian England, and to Hershey Pennsylvania -- accompanied all the while by his trusty greyhound, Pedro. unable to die, he searches to recapture the magic of Ignacia's chocolate -- and to learn to love life just as fully. Playful and intelligent, this is a romantic story about love and loss inspired by a very enchanting substance.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this winning blend of fiction and fact, a long-lived Spaniard serves as narrator and guide through the Old World discovery and development of one of life's consuming passions. In 1518, young Diego de Godoy sets sail for the New World to find a rare treasure to win the heart and hand of Isabella. Joining Cortes, Diego journeys to Mexico, where he guards Montezuma; finds his true-love, Ignacia; and through her discovers the delight of the drink of the cacao bean. War parts the lovers, but Ignacia's special chocolate elixir sustains them through the centuries, as Diego's life centers on chocolate: he prepares confections with the Marquis de Sade in the Bastille, helps create the Sacher torte in Vienna (where Sigmund Freud treats him with cocaine and therapy), has a hand in shaping and naming the Hersey Kiss, and discusses life, love, and chocolate mousse with Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. And he learns that even virtual immortality and chocolate do not bring happiness if love is lacking. A delicious literary debut. --Michele Leber


Publisher's Weekly Review

In a series of vignettes that span four centuries and are linked by their focus on chocolate, immortal protagonist Diego de Godoy presides over the discovery and refinement of the divine confectionÄbut his concomitant reflections on life and love, too often trite, leave the reader hungering for more satisfying fare. In 1518, Diego, a young Spaniard anxious to prove his devotion to the lady Isabella, joins a ship of conquistadors bound for the Americas under the leadership of Cort‚s. His devotion to Isabella wanes, however, when, as a guest of Montezuma in Mexico, he meets the lovely Ignacia and tastes the smooth, bittersweet drink she serves himÄcacahuatl, or chocolate. Diego and Ignacia spend an idyllic week together before his fellow Spaniards turn on Montezuma and raze his land. The lovers are forced to part, but not before Ignacia serves Diego a magical drink that makes him immortal and able to travel though time. In the centuries that follow, Diego charms Spanish nobility with his mole sauce, prepares chocolate creams with the Marquis de Sade in the Bastille, invents the Sacher torte, undergoes analysis with Sigmund Freud in Vienna and helps Hershey invent the KissÄthough he longs all the while for his Ignacia and resents the curse of his protracted existence. While Runcie, a BBC filmmaker, offers a clever conceit and meticulous, enticing descriptions of chocolate-making, Diego's philosophizing falls short by comparison, and the plot relies to heavily upon contrivance and coincidence. Still, those willing to suspend disbelief and simply go along for the ride will be beguiled by Diego's fanciful, sensual journey. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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