Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review: The Foodtaster

Set in Renaissance Italy, "The Foodtaster" by Peter Elbling takes you on a journey with humble Ugo DiFonte, who becomes the foodtaster to a highly despicable duke.

It is a rather vivid insight into what 16th Century Italy was actually like - a hotbed of political intrigue; of papal dissembling; of life and death; of love and hate.

All over Italy, self-governing duchies were ruled by men considered as mere tyrants. The ruled with a violence that was "natural" for their time. People survived by their wits - advancement came through the downfall of others - and ultimately so did one's own.

Into this den of vice came the plague, sweeping all before it - no-one was spared - rich and poor alike suffered the same fate. And with the plague came paranoia and conspiracy.

Elbling presents the novel as a long-lost manuscript left as a bequest to the author - or in this case - the "translator", Elbling.

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