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New Yorker: "In this comic novel, two expats try to live on the same Tuscan mountaintop for the summer without killing each other."

Date: Sep 3 2005

In this comic novel, two expats try to live on the same Tuscan mountaintop for the summer without killing each other: Gerald, an effete English snob and amateur cook who makes his living as a ghostwriter; and Marta, a bohemian composer from a crime family in a former Soviet republic. Hamilton-Paterson quickly seduces the reader with the perfectly captured acerbic tone and timing of Gerald and Marta’s badinage. Secondary characters include the bald, crystal-wearing star of a British boy band and an avant-garde Italian film director (making what turns out to be high-budget pornography). The most memorable element of this inventive story, however, is Gerald’s recipes, which punctuate the text; they include Mussels in Chocolate, Garlic and Fernet Branca Ice Cream, and Alien Pie, a dish made from smoked cat and a drop of kerosene, and garnished with a buzzard feather.