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Tomato Rhapsody: A Fable of Love, Lust, and Forbidden Fruitby Adam Schell
Synopses & Reviews
A village in Tuscany is the setting for this joyous debut—a novel that defies all our expectations as it puts a fresh, clever, captivating spin on the age-old tale of forbidden love. Rich in literary delights, filled with spectacular wordplay, and rife with the bawdy humor of Shakespeares comedies, Tomato Rhapsody is the almost-true tale of how the tomato came to Italy—at once a brilliantly inventive fable of love, lust, and longing, and a dazzling feast for the imagination.
This is a story born from love—a forbidden love—between Davido, an Ebreo tomato farmer, and Mari, a beautiful Catholic girl.…But its not only Davido and Mari who have secrets of the heart. Everyone around them yearns for something—from Davidos grandfather, who tenderly cultivates the tomato plant he stole on his voyages with Columbus, to Maris villainous stepfather, whose eye is trained on his stepdaughters virginity and his neighbors land.
Caught in the midst of these passions and machinations is a village full of eccentrics who speak in rhyme, celebrate the Feast of the Drunken Saint, and live a life untouched by the passage of time. The schemes and dreams of these men and women are about to change as what is forbidden becomes too delicious to resist. Tradition, religion, and good taste collide unforgettably in a story about the courage to pursue love and tomato sauce at all costs.
"It takes a lot of confidence to encroach on Shakespearean territory, but Schell displays sufficient moxie in this delectable debut. The lush Tuscan countryside is the predictable yet appropriate setting of his sixteenth-century romp through a multitude of humorous scenarios involving both forbidden love and the introduction of the tomato into the heart, soul, and stomach of the Italian populace. At the core of the novel is a deceptively simple boy-meets-girl plot featuring a lovelorn Jewish tomato farmer and the beautiful Catholic daughter of a devious olive magnate. Of course, anyone who knows their Shakespeare knows that the course of true love never runs smoothly, and Schell displays the finesse of a master chef as he spices up the story with a delicious array of humorous subplots — ranging from the bawdy to the sweet — guaranteed to appeal to discerning literary palates." Booklist
"From the very beginning of Schell's debut novel, a would-be Shakespearean fable set in a 16th-century Tuscan village, food lust takes center stage. While cruel-hearted olive tycoon Giuseppe and his underling, Benito, forage for truffles, the Jewish farmer Davido worships the tomato plants on his farm: 'the plant's fragrance... transcended his olfactory organs to purify his heart and cleanse his mind.' When the new priest allows Davido's 'love apples' into town for the first time, life starts to get complicated. For one, the stepdaughter of our villain, Giuseppe, falls for the already betrothed Davido — an outcast besides, due to his station and religion. Bawdy hijinks coded in ribald Italian reach a climax at the village's Feast of the Drunken Saint donkey race, a jarring spin on Shakespeare's more tawdry rhymes. Attempts at a similarly Shakespearean cast of characters (the novel opens with an actual cast of characters) instead result in a silly collection of one-dimensional characters who keep the tale moving until the fate of our star-crossed lovers, and of tomato sauce, are predictably resolved. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this extravagant, inventive debut novel, love's heart beats tomato red under a sultry Tuscan sun.
About the Author
Adam Schell holds a master's degree in creative writing from Antioch University. He played inside linebacker at Northwestern University, has made two award-winning short films, worked as a screenwriter, directed commercials, cooked professionally, picked grapes and olives in Tuscany, got fired as a food critic, then moved to the left coast with his wife, where he works as a yoga teacher and writes.
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