I feel uncomfortable writing a bad review as I don’t want to disrespect all of the effort the author put in, especially if it’s their debut novel. So, after reading the first few pages, when I was already feeling a bit suspicious that this wasn’t going to be a good read, I remained hopeful and kept reading. However, it turned out that my initial instinct was correct.
The story itself was not that bad and it had potential, had it been written differently. Here are my reasons (in no particular order):
Flat writing style: not convincing, superficial, a list of facts.
Unforgivable abundance of Italian spelling mistakes: seriously? If you’re going to publish a book, I’d expect there to be adequate checking of the spelling of the foreign language used!
Exaggeration of Italian stereotypes: I get it, you want to use the popular Italian clichés because they are entertaining, but there are too many of them and they are too obvious and therefore too unrealistic. I know it’s a work of fiction, but I’d have selected just a few of them, not all the existing ones.
Unnecessary use of Italian swear words: some of these are the vilest words you could hear in Italy. Why? They didn’t add anything.
Also, if you want to use swear words, at least use them appropriately (i.e. as Italians would use them). For instance, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read the probably-most-known-abroad Italian swear word. Someone please tells the author that when Italians use it they don’t address the recipient of it in a formal way, quite the opposite.
For those who understand Italian, to give you a clue of what we’re talking about, the sentence was “Caffanculo a lei”. Oh, man! Misspelling and grammatical errors in just three words. For those of you who don’t understand Italian, don’t worry, you’re not missing out.
Ridiculous sexual scenes: let’s leave it at that, shall we?
Characters lacking any depth: I didn’t connect with any of them. There was no real exploration of what was going on in their minds. This was not the main problem, though. The most serious problem was another one. All the characters, both males and females, were developed from a singular point of view: a masculine perspective that oversexualized women. No, this is a huge NO.
Unsatisfying end: not that I was expecting anything better.
What I liked about the book
Engaging food description: a good part (although perhaps too much) of the book is about cooking and eating Italian food. You could even see, smell and taste it most of the time and this is the reason I have added an additional star to the one I initially thought it deserved.
A spot-on title: he nailed this!
While I was reading this book, I mainly felt bored, frustrated and disturbed. After having read it, I feel like I’ve wasted my time, and would not recommend this at all.
Title: The Food of Love
Author: Anthony Capella
Year First Published: 2004
In Anthony Capella’s delicious debut novel, Laura, a twentysomething American, is on her first trip to Italy. She’s completely enamoured of the art, beauty, and, of course, food that Rome has to offer.
Soon she’s enamoured of the handsome and charming Tommaso, who tells her he’s a chef at the famed Templi restaurant and begins to woo her with his gastronomic creations.
But Tommaso hasn’t been entirely truthful—he’s really just a waiter. The master chef behind the tantalizing meals is Tommaso’s talented but shy friend Bruno, who loves Laura from afar.
Thus begins a classic comedy of errors full of the culinary magic and the sensual atmosphere of Italy. The result is a romantic comedy in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxanne that tempts readers to devour it in one sitting.
Evoking the sights, smells and flavours of Italy in sensuous prose, this lively book also features recipes for readers to create (or just dream about) Bruno’s food of amore.