John Skotnes' A NOVEL CUISINE Tells Story of Love, Food and Life's Complications
"A Novel Cuisine" is a book intended to be humorous and laced with a charitable dollop of the slightly absurd nature of human relationships. This story and the characters in this riveting read are drawn from the perfect fusion of the many wonderful people that enriched author John Skotnes life. It is a captivating novel about an eccentric, 46-year-old writer, critic and consultant, Norman Frye, whose specialty is all things culinary. He lives amidst black walls and cunningly placed pools of light in a converted cellar below an early 20th century city town house in Kenilworth, Cape Town. He has a couch atop a fish tank and a pet rat called Trotsky. For over 50 days, the complicated lives of the central characters interweave towards an often painful and tragic resolution.
The interactions readers will witness in "A Novel Cuisine" are sometimes characterized by acts of absurdity, anger and bitterness, but mostly the story is underlined by a wry humour and candid honesty. Although the central theme of the novel is of Norman coming to grips with a sense of emotional abandonment through childhood to his current circumstance, each character in the story participates in the narration of the unfolding events. This device serves to reinforce the complexity of human relationships and to illustrate that the taking of sides in emotional conflict is psychologically destructive.
When Norman caught his partner of many years, Ivy Lynch, in an act of infidelity, everything was ruined. This has led to the ongoing tensions between him and Ivy's family, which remain fertile ground for family disagreement and hostility. Norman begins writing a cookbook, "The Divorced Man's Table", as an antidote to his shattered sense of self. Then came Gabriella Sloane, a film maker, who asks him to participate in the writing of a film script, the action of which centres on what she enigmatically calls 'dark food'. Their association moves quickly into intimacy, with all the consequences typical of a rebound relationship. Soon, Norman finds himself in a helter-skelter situation - with Gabriella and Ivy emotionally pulling him in opposite directions. Adding to the quagmire is Norman's relationship with his overbearing mother, Olive-Jean, a columnist for the Big Issue who has dedicated her life to humanitarian causes, who plans a meal to take place after her death at which a stranger is set to inherit a third of her estate. But what's the mystery behind her 'last supper'?
Will Norman be able to manage the real crisis in his life, move forward, and find some closure? Will there be a possibility of rapprochement between him and Gabriella in the future? A Novel Cuisine tells all.
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A Novel Cuisine * by John Skotnes
Publication Date: September 28, 2011
Trade Paperback; £13.99; 287 pages; 978-1-4653-5161-6
Trade Hardback; £23.99; 287 pages; 978-1-4653-5162-3
eBook; £9.99; 978-1-4653-5163-0
More On: A Novel Cuisine, Norman Frye, John Skotnes, fiction