Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Book of Unholy Mischief

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

In the deliciously, creative book of historical fiction, Elle Newmark uses books as theme and backdrop for her chapters.  I am going to try to emulate her style in this book review.

The Book of Culinary Delight
This book made my mouth water as I read about the enticing recipes made by the two main characters in the book.  The chef is Amato Ferrero and his apprentice is Luciano and they work in the palace kitchen.  The chef teaches his apprentice the meaning of life through the food they cook, which enriches the souls and minds of the people they cook for.  The magical chef holds secrets to creating culinary masterpieces.

The Book of  the Five Senses
The story takes place during the Renaissance in Venice, Italy during the year of 1498.  If you are a lover of Venice, then you must read this book to evoke the memory of Venice as it was 500 years ago.  Venice is evoked in sight by the lovely canals, the dank, dark alleys, the beautiful palaces and the rows of food at the market.  Smell is evoked by the scent of salt and fish in the air, as well as the smell of the homeless children who roam the streets. The garbage is swept into the canals while perfumed noble men walk by. Taste the peaches and pomegranates the market has to offer, the delicious food stolen or dug out of garbage cans for the hungry.  Try one of the dishes the palace chef has created.  Touch the juicy peaches and feel the measure of hard work in your palm as you embroider, cook, fish, and carry wood to make a living.  It is so luxurious to have a job and earn your own money.  Hear the seagulls as they cry, listen to the drunks on the street, the meat and onions sizzle in the pan while your mouth waters.  You are hungry again.

The Book of Unholy Mischief
Word on the street is that there is a book hiding in Venice, that holds secrets.  Secrets about the past, about the gospels, about eternal life.  People will pay a lot of money and will give titled positions to anyone who can find it.  No one is safe.  The dungeons are filling up with people who are questioned to death.  Most people cannot read or write and if you do you could be a suspect.  Books are starting to be mass produced on the newly invented printing press.  Ideas can be deadly, new ingredients scary and you need to watch your back.  Beware!

The Book and Booksnob
I started reading this book the week I visited the Renaissance festival here in town.  This really helped me evoke time and place when reading the book.  I started to use some of the author's Italian exclamations in my everyday speech, Marrone! for awhile and I dreamt about lots of delicious food.  As a history teacher, I can't wait to share this book with my class and add it to the reading list.