Fans of the fascinating Sidney Chambers know James Runcie as the author of six volumes of stories featuring the Vicar of Grantchester (who then becomes Archdeacon). The Discovery of Chocolate (2001) is the first novel published by the British author, who started his career as screenwriter, director and producer.
In this historical novel, love sets young Diego on a journey to the New World with the conquistador Cortés. In Mexico, Diego discovers the delights of chocolate, which was then a beverage. Drinking a special chocolate prepared by the fascinating Ignacia has a "funny" effect on Diego, which allows the novel to span not only continents but also centuries (I just finished reading the chapter where Diego makes raspberry creams with the Marquis de Sade in the Bastille).
On his website, the author says a few words about the novel's genesis:
I had originally planned to write a series of short stories, one for each century, connected by chocolate but with different characters and different moments in time. But then I thought that they might be able to have the same narrator, a character who travelled through history, and across all the stories...
It would be a novel about the need for readiness, and for acceptance. It would be about the need for calm, and the ability to look death in the face without fear...
So these became my basic ingredients. Life and death, love and chocolate.
If this morsel tempts you, grab your favorite chocolate bar or truffle and join us for this edition of our virtual book club.
Deadline: Saturday, March 31, 2018.
Remember that anyone can participate in Cook the Books, simply pick up a copy of the selection from your local bookstore or library, take inspiration from said reading, cook and post an inspired dish. We look forward to having you read and cook along with us in 2018. New participants are always welcomed with open arms! (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.)