A beautiful, rich and sensuous historical novel, John Saturnall’s Feast tells the story of a young orphan who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house, and rises through the ranks to become the greatest Cook of his generation. It is a story of food, star-crossed lovers, ancient myths and one boy’s rise from outcast to hero.
Orphaned when his mother dies of starvation, having been cast out of her village as a witch, John is taken in at the kitchens at Buckland Manor, where he quickly rises from kitchen-boy to Cook, and is known for his uniquely keen palate and natural cooking ability. However, he quickly gets on the wrong side of Lady Lucretia, the aristocratic daughter of the Lord of the Manor. In order to inherit the estate, Lucretia must wed, but her fiancé is an arrogant buffoon. When Lucretia takes on a vow of hunger until her father calls off her engagement to her insipid husband-to-be, it falls to John to try to cook her delicious foods that might tempt her to break her fast.
Reminiscent of Wolf Hall and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, John Saturnall’s Feast is a brilliant work and a delight for all the senses.
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Lawrence Norfolk is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Lemprière’s Dictionary, The Pope’s Rhinoceros, and In the Shape of a Boar. He lives in London.
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Book Description Grove/BOMC. 1 Cloth(s), 2012. hard. Book Condition: New. Orphaned when his mother was cast out of her village as a witch in early 17th-century England, John Saturnall is taken in at the kitchens at Buckland Manor, in this sensuous, long-anticipated novel from the Somerset Maugham Award–winning author of Lemprière's Dictionary. The one thing John possesses is the knowledge of a mythical text about food, and he quickly rises from kitchen boy to Cook, celebrated for his singularly keen palate and preternatural cooking ability. When the king himself visits Buckland it is John Saturnall who cooks for him. And when Lady Lucretia, the lord's aristocratic daughter, takes a vow of hunger to protest her arranged marriage, it is John again who is given the task of tempting her to eat. But in their ensuing battle, something else begins to grow between the cook and the lady."Lawrence Norfolk, historical novelist extraordinaire, inhabits the 17th century through its food. From the reign of Charles I through civil war, Cromwell's protectorate and on to the restoration, we are treated to both lavish feasting and battlefield foraging, the politics of the high table and the hearthside use of medicinal herbs. Norfolk's ability to fold history in on itself, and to summon deep time, is as dazzling here as it was in his earlier novels: family genealogy becomes a myth of origins. The material is fascinating. Norfolk's imagination is bigger and more abstract than the individual; he conjures so well the bustling bureaucracy of the 17th-century manor house, its systems of rights and obligations, its geographical and social significance. The food writing is sensuous and exact . you put the book down wanting to make it all."—Guardian (London) 413. Bookseller Inventory # 42217
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