John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk

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Mr. Norfolk’s skill with words puts the reader on his protagonist’s shoulder to experience the joys and pains he experiences; to taste the mouth-watering delicacies he creates...and the friends he carries with him throughout his life.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

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.
 

About Lawrence Norfolk

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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.
 
Published September 4, 2012 by Grove Press. 417 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for John Saturnall's Feast
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Justine Jordan on Sep 21 2012

Classically informed, globally supplied and rich in local ingredients, the pre-civil war era is revealed as a golden age for English cuisine.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Natasha Tripney on Sep 15 2012

...Norfolk's writing is at its strongest when he's describing the symbolic significance of certain dishes...

Read Full Review of John Saturnall's Feast | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Judith Flanders on Aug 31 2012

...Mr. Norfolk's use of child's-eye view and lush, incantatory prose give the narrative a hushed air of magic, as though Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" were being recounted by the hero of Patrick Süskind's "Perfume."

Read Full Review of John Saturnall's Feast | See more reviews from WSJ online

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Judith Reveal on Sep 04 2012

Mr. Norfolk’s skill with words puts the reader on his protagonist’s shoulder to experience the joys and pains he experiences; to taste the mouth-watering delicacies he creates...and the friends he carries with him throughout his life.

Read Full Review of John Saturnall's Feast | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Reader Rating for John Saturnall's Feast
75%

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