A young Spaniard sets off for South America in 1518 with Cortes and the Conquistadors, propelled by his love's declaration that she will not marry until he returns with a special treasure -- a symbol of their love -- that no man or woman has ever before received. But during his travels he falls in love with Ignacia, a native woman who introduces him to the secrets of the most delicious drink he has ever tasted: chocolate. Their passionate affair is cut short by the chaotic conquest of Mexico.
So begins this charming and adventurous story about the magical substance we now know as chocolate, and of the passions and obsessions it has inspired from its earliest days. Our hero later discovers that his lover had secretly added the elixir to life to his chocolate drink. This allows him to travel through history: to Paris during the time of the Revolution, to Vienna in the nineteenth century, to late Victorian England, and to Hershey Pennsylvania -- accompanied all the while by his trusty greyhound, Pedro. unable to die, he searches to recapture the magic of Ignacia's chocolate -- and to learn to love life just as fully. Playful and intelligent, this is a romantic story about love and loss inspired by a very enchanting substance.
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James Runcie is an award-winning filmmaker in England. He has scripted three films for BBC Television, reviewed books for the Daily Telegraph, and has written for the Observer, the Evening Standard, and Country Living. This is his first novel.From Publishers Weekly:
In a series of vignettes that span four centuries and are linked by their focus on chocolate, immortal protagonist Diego de Godoy presides over the discovery and refinement of the divine confection--but his concomitant reflections on life and love, too often trite, leave the reader hungering for more satisfying fare. In 1518, Diego, a young Spaniard anxious to prove his devotion to the lady Isabella, joins a ship of conquistadors bound for the Americas under the leadership of Cort‚s. His devotion to Isabella wanes, however, when, as a guest of Montezuma in Mexico, he meets the lovely Ignacia and tastes the smooth, bittersweet drink she serves him--cacahuatl, or chocolate. Diego and Ignacia spend an idyllic week together before his fellow Spaniards turn on Montezuma and raze his land. The lovers are forced to part, but not before Ignacia serves Diego a magical drink that makes him immortal and able to travel though time. In the centuries that follow, Diego charms Spanish nobility with his mole sauce, prepares chocolate creams with the Marquis de Sade in the Bastille, invents the Sacher torte, undergoes analysis with Sigmund Freud in Vienna and helps Hershey invent the Kiss--though he longs all the while for his Ignacia and resents the curse of his protracted existence. While Runcie, a BBC filmmaker, offers a clever conceit and meticulous, enticing descriptions of chocolate-making, Diego's philosophizing falls short by comparison, and the plot relies to heavily upon contrivance and coincidence. Still, those willing to suspend disbelief and simply go along for the ride will be beguiled by Diego's fanciful, sensual journey. Author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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