La Cucina, A Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior has more in common with “Like Water for Chocolate” and “Chocolat” than the Camilleri mysteries. Lily Prior’s novel is a celebration of life with all of its pleasures and disappointments.
The novel follows Rosa Fiore from childhood through middle age. For Rosa, the kitchen in her family’s farmhouse in the Alcantara valley in Sicily was the source of all her happiness when she was growing up. Throughout her life Rosa cooks obsessively. She cooks when she is sad, when she is happy and most enthusiastically when she is in love. Food in La Cucina is sexy.
Structured so that the titles follow the seasons the reader starts with L’Inverno and the darkness that accompanies winter and ends with L’Autunno bursting with colors as the characters settle into their lives.
There is the odd assortment of characters that readers have come to expect when reading novels set in Italy – the wayward father, the evil brother and the promiscuous mother.
La Cucina manages to be both sensuous and raunchy at the same time making the book a thoroughly enjoyable read.
La Cucina Review From Booklist:
Food and Italy are certainly popular subjects for novels and memoirs these days. Prior jumps on the “Tuscan Sun” bandwagon with her own contribution, this one about Sicily. Rosa grew up the only girl in a peasant family in rural Sicily. When the Mafia murders her first and only love, she turns to cooking for solace. Eventually, she leaves rural existence for good and begins a new life as a librarian in Palermo, Sicily’s capital. Her life there is staid, but she continues to cook, with a reputation to boot. When she meets a mysterious Englishman, a chef and a writer, in the library one day, she knows she is about to fall madly in love. Her premonitions are correct, and the Englishman shows Rosa that food is only one of many sensual delights. Librarian readers will probably tire of the cliched description of Rosa: an overweight, undersexed spinster, chided by her staff and revolting to her patrons. However, the food she cooks is fabulous. Bonnie Smothers. Copyright © American Library Association.