I've been reviewing books online, on various sites since 2007. Random Thing Through My Letterbox has only been alive since March 2011, so there are around four years worth of reviews out there that I haven't featured on the blog. Many of those are for books that I have loved. I thought that I'd post them here. My review style has improved over the years I think ...
From the internationally bestselling author of The Wedding Officer comes a novel whose stunning blend of exotic adventure and erotic passion will intoxicate every reader who tastes of its remarkable delights.
When a woman gives a man coffee, it is a way of showing her desire.—Abyssinian proverb
It was a cup of coffee that changed Robert Wallis’s life—and a cup of very bad coffee at that. The impoverished poet is sitting in a London coffeehouse contemplating an uncertain future when he meets Samuel Pinker. The owner of Castle Coffee offers Wallace the very last thing a struggling young artiste in fin de siècle England could possibly want: a job.
But the job Wallis accepts—employing his palate and talent for words to compose a “vocabulary of coffee” based on its many subtle and elusive flavors—is only the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in which Wallis will experience the dizzying heights of desire and the excruciating pain of loss. As Wallis finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his coworker, Pinker’s spirited suffragette daughter Emily, both will discover that you cannot awaken one set of senses without affecting all the others.
Their love is tested when Wallis is dispatched on a journey to North Africa in search of the legendary Arab mocca. As he travels to coffee’s fabled birthplace—and learns the fiercely guarded secrets of the trade—Wallis meets Fikre, the defiant, seductive slave of a powerful coffee merchant, who serves him in the traditional Abyssinian coffee ceremony. And when Fikre dares to slip Wallis a single coffee bean, the mysteries of coffee and forbidden passion intermingle…and combine to change history and fate.
The Various Flavours of Coffee was published by Bantam in August 2008.
Well, what a romp of a read! And so very different to The Food Of Love or The Wedding Officer. If you fell in love with Bruno from The Food Of Love and expect another luscious hero then think again. Our hero in 'Coffee' is Robert Wallis - and although he comes through by the end, it takes a long time to warm to his character. This one moves away from Capella's usual romantic comedy and although it is still playful and sensual there is less farce.
The story follows twenty years of Robert's life. From his days as a bit of a waster, hanging around brothels and clubs in London with his rich play-boy friends, through his discovery of the Pinker sisters, his five years overseas and back home to London.
There are some wonderful quotes in this book, some that made me gasp and some that had me giggling. Amongst my favourites; Robert has just landed at Alexandria and quickly found his way to the local bar/whorehouse, where he takes the opportunity to sample the girls on offer. When relaying this episode to a friend at home in a letter, he writes: ".... my first dark-skinned girl. Completely shaven, incidentally. She was pleasantly flexible, I thought, in comparison to London girls, though a little dry."
So that is the sort of guy Robert starts out like. Through the years he mellows, he has many experiences. He lives amongst a native tribe and falls in love with a native girl - head over heels in love - the consequences of this love affair, change Robert completely and this is when he becomes more human and the reader starts to really care about him. The story also centres around the sufragette movement, and of course the coffee industry in the early twentieth century.
Anthony Capella is a talented author who has shown with this novel that he can turn his hand to more than the romantic comedy he is known for.
Anthony Capella was born in Uganda, Africa in 1962. He was educated at St Peter’s College, Oxford, where he graduated with a First in English Literature.
The Food of Love, his first novel, was a Richard and Judy Summer Read in the UK. It has been translated into nineteen languages.
His second novel, The Wedding Officer, was another international bestseller. Both books have been optioned for the screen.
His third novel, The Various Flavours of Coffee, was a WH Smith Read of the Week in the UK and a Target Breakout Selection in America.
The Empress of Ice Cream came out in 2010 and Love and Other Dangerous Chemicals in 2012.