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The Discovery Of Chocolate (2002)

The Discovery Of Chocolate (2002)
3.25 of 5 Votes: 4
0007107838 (ISBN13: 9780007107834)
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The Discovery Of Chocolate (2002)
The Discovery Of Chocolate (2002)

About book: I found this a rich and intriguing book covering continents and centuries. Love, passion, and best of all, chocolate!''In 1518 the 20-year-old Diego leaves Seville bound for Mexico where he joins Cortes's conquistadors and falls in love with the beautiful Ignacia. When Diego is ordered back to Spain, Ignacia gives him a parting gift: a chocolate drink, the elixir of life, and the promise that "If you are alive, then I am alive. Never cease in your search for me." But, returning to Mexico, he finds only her grave and so begins his wanderings, sometimes dictated by the forces of history, sometimes by his own whims. Through "an eternity of travel", he and Pedro reach Chiapas, the city of Ignacia's birth, where he discovers that time has slipped by a century. Full of incident made more piquant by the introduction of significant figures along the way, Diego soon finds himself locked in the Bastille. It's 1788 and he swaps chocolate recipes with the Marquis de Sade. Then on to Vienna to create sachertorte. Fervent with questions, yet filled with despair about life's meaning, he begins his weekly visits to Freud. And all the while, his droll scrapes punctuate his slightly overdone gloom. On board ship to America, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas solace him with talk of love and food. The early 1900s find him once more in Mexico, a man old in wisdom, but still virile in his ways.''

This quick read is to the genre of Historical Fiction what the fun cozies are to Mystery and Romance is to Fiction. It was longer on Fantasy than it was factual information, and even some of the facts were way off. An example? According to the book, Mole poblano was "invented" by an indigenous woman in the early 1500s soon after the arrival of Cortez intead of the creation of the nuns in one of the convents in the city of Puebla 300 years later. The narrator reports seeing lemons and oranges in a market soon after the arrival of the Spanish -- history reports that citrus fruits were one of the plants carried to the new world by the spanish -- they were unknown in Mexico. Some of the Mexican historical events are a bit skewed -- which makes me wonder about the historical accuracy of other events, including the French revolution, et al. Bottom line, it's a fun read that requires a bit of belief in fantasy -- does chocolate really allow men and dogs to never age -- and to live for hundreds of years? Probably not -- or else we should start eating more chocolate!
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The premise sounds lovely, and the set-up is well done. You want to delve into this novel the way you would delve into chocolate molten lava cake. But telling the tale of a society's destruction from the perspective of the conquistador's sidekick does not work as well as the author intended. He abandons the idea of time travel for most of the novel, and focuses on the protagonist's failed love life. Brushes with real history, a la Forrest Gump, start to seem contrived, and ultimately the mixture of chocolate, lost love, lost time and world history feels a bit stale.
Alan Pottinger
This was certainly a beautifully imagined story drifting like a dream in which coincidences and tenuous links can be forgiven. Not my favourite read but neither was it wasted and I'm glad I reached the end as it was poignantly charming. As fir time travel don't we all actually experience it? isn't that what life is all about, ok it doesn't last hundreds of years like the character in this book but life does allow is to experience an ever changing world and new people who in turn shape our outlooks, knowledge and understanding of who we are. And chocolate,apart from dreadful Hershey bar stuff, is a bonus!
I really loved this satisfying novel that is a bit of a fantasy/fairy tale.There were several passages that gave me pause for contemplation. Pg. 133 is on having children.Pg. 137 a character knows when a cake is ready to come out of the oven by it's smell. In real life I have observed my friend Ann do this when she bakes pies. She never uses a timer!Pg. 211 ". . .this life which seems so long is, in fact, lived in an instant, and that we must one day be judged: not so much by a divine figure as by the far more frightening prospect of our own, elderly selves."I think my book club would enjoy this one.
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