Intoxicated by John Barlow
A Novel of Money, Madness, and the Invention of the World's Favorite Soft Drink

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Yorkshire, 1869. When self–made Victorian businessman Isaac Brookes returns home from his wool mill in France he could not have suspected that a chance encounter on a train would alter the gastronomical landscape of the world. But when he meets, and almost kills, Rodrigo Vermilion, a hunchback midget dressed in rags––Vermilion sees in pragmatic Isaac a grand opportunity to improve his lot in life, and becomes determined to go into business with him. Enter the Temperance Soldiers, a band of righteous social moralists who offer Vermilion the inspiration, and idea he so desperately needs. One taste of his first Temperance Ale–worse he felt sure than the ancient slime at the bottom of the pond, old frog juice, and duck droppings scooped up in a glass–and this savvy schemer with a genius for persuasion is off and running and soon convinces Isaac and his son to invest their fortune on an idea sure to appeal to Victorian sensibilities: Rhubarilla©, a fizzy, fruity drink that will sweep the world in ways that even the irrepressible Vermilion could have imagined. A family saga, a fairy tale, a fantastical history of England and of the origins of world's favorite soft drink–INTOXICATED is a witty, and dazzling treat from a writer of boundless imagination and promise.


About John Barlow

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John Barlow is a native of West Yorkshire who has taught at universities in both England and Spain. He is the author of Eating Mammals and lives in Spain.
Published February 7, 2006 by William Morrow. 368 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In London, Roderick spends lavishly on Isaac’s credit, earning the wrath of drunken Tom (who thinks he’s the only one who should waste his father’s money), but also garners the insight that the world needs a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink.

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The New York Times

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If, despite its richness of language and incident, the book never achieves much urgency — I could put "Intoxicated" down, and did so, at no risk to the heavy machinery in my apartment — Barlow has made great strides.

Jun 04 2006 | Read Full Review of Intoxicated: A Novel of Money...

Publishers Weekly

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Part fable and part vaudeville, this history of the fictional Rhubarilla, "one of the most popular carbonated soft drinks in the world," begins in 1860s England, when Rodrigo Vermilion, a flamboyant hunchback midget, meets businessman Isaac Brookes on a train bound for Yorkshire.

Jan 30 2006 | Read Full Review of Intoxicated: A Novel of Money...

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