By Lily Prior
Completed July 25, 2009
La Cucina by Lily Prior is exactly what its subtitle suggested – a story of rapture. Set in Sicily, this story centered on Rosa – a librarian who used cooking as a way to deal with life’s stresses. She met “L’Inglese” – an English chef – at her library, and immediately sparks flew between them. Between the great food and sex, the two shared a wonderful summer of love under the sun. This part of the novel was steamy in more ways than one!
Then, L’Inglese disappeared, leaving Rosa in total despair. She returned to her family’s farm, spending time with her aging mother, her gaggle of brothers and the great “cucina” where she could cook away her sorrows. At the farm, Rosa rediscovered the joys of farm life and being surrounded by those you love.
La Cucina was, at the basic level, a story about delicious food and sex. For the latter, this book will not be everyone. The sex scenes were gratuitous but not vulgar, but if you don’t like to read about sex, then stay clear of this book. If you love food, however, this is the book for you.
This was the debut novel by Lily Prior, and her “rookiness” showed. Her depictions of Sicily – the sights, sound and smells – were rapturous in themselves. However, the pace of this novel was off, especially at the end where a hundred (important) things were crammed in. I wish Prior made another revision to tighten the time frames. But La Cucina kept me turning its pages, hoping that Rosa found peace and love. In the end, that’s really what I wish for in a book.