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Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  3,989 Ratings  ·  935 Reviews
A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Picador (first published June 4th 2013)
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(showing 1-30)
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Kat Kennedy
I described this book to my mother. “It’s about a chef who gets kidnapped by pirates. He has to cook a gourmet meal for the pirate captain once a week. And this pirate captain, mom, she is AWESOME!”

My mom smiled knowingly, “Oh. And then they start getting it on like rabbits!”

I faltered for a moment, stalling while trying to explain. “No! It’s not a romance-romance. I mean, they do develop a relationship but it’s…not a focus in the novel.”

My mom seemed to understand, giving a confident nod. “So h
This becoming woman sitting across from me was as grisly a villain as ever walked the earth, and yet I was more at home in the quiet of her parlor and the comfort of a good meal than I had been since my ordeal began. Taste and talk---these were the privileges of the living. I could refuse to make conversation and bring out the monster in her, or I could pacify and live long enough to escape.

When Chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by pirates, he finds himself the recipient of an odd request from the
This book is a hilarious, whimsical novel that features two of my favorite things: pirate queens and FOOD. Captured by the red-haired Mad Hannah Mabbot, Shark of the Indian Ocean, personal chef Owen Wedgwood must now spend his weeks cooking her feasts in a ship's galley with the barest of larders. He's short on supplies and has none of the implements that a self-respecting French-trained chef would require, so he's forced to improvise:

While I was searching vainly for a rolling pin, it occurred t
Joe Valdez
My treat for finishing Hamlet was this 2013 swashbuckler by Eli Brown, my introduction to the Southern California author's work. Brown's second novel earned a spot on my 2015 reading docket by boasting the best title, logline and cover design I've laid eyes on in a while. These were the equivalent of meeting a woman with a warm laugh, a love for books and an appetite. (I apologize for turning this review into an eHarmony ad.)

Title: Cinnamon and Gunpowder. You have my curiosity, sir.

Logline: "Th
Christy B
I need to preface this review with the statement that lady pirates are most likely my favorite all-time historical subject. I study and read about them, I watch TV and films with them, I even create my own lady pirate characters for stories. I love them.

So, the fact that this book contained a fierce red-headed lady pirate captain, I was all over it, so to speak. There was the fear that I may be disappointed (it's not like books about lady pirates grow on trees) because this book was written by a
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a hard book to review because it’s a hard book to define. Part adventure, part food writing, and part romance, this epistolary novel is as complex as the dinners Wedge creates, as beautiful as the love that grows, and as bittersweet as the ending. Tears weren’t expected in a story about a chef creating new meals for a group of pirates every week, but they came all the same.

I was madly, head-over-heels in love w
What happens when a cultured and devout British chef is captured by pirates and forced to live among the heathen brutes led a by fiery red haired freckled female captain? Well you end up with nail biting adventure, desperate attempts at gastronomy, fantastic imagery and a bit of romance. The novel sports eloquent and descriptive language, written in a tone and verbiage appropriate to the early 1800s. The author's knowledge of sailing and ships is amazing. The chef's evolution among the pirates i ...more
Dec 02, 2015 Gavin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I think it was most likely a victim of my false expectations. I was expecting a fun and hilarious historical romance romp. What I actually got was a weird historical fiction with a touch of fantasy and a tiny bit of romance.

Mad Hannah Mabbot, the notorious pirate captain, is a terror on the high seas and a thorn in the side of the prominent Pendelton Trading Company. During a raid where she kills a high ranking Pendelton official Lord Ramsey she
Eli Brown’s infectious romp of a novel has a thoroughly modern sensibility dressed in the garb of yore. It is the early 1800’s and Owen Wedgwood is chef to Lord Ramsey, one of the chief shareholders of the Pendleton Trading Company in England which trades opium for tea, silk, silver, and spices in Asia. Enter Hannah Mabbot, pirate extraordinaire, defender of the underdog, and avenger of the exploited.
”Then entered a pillar of menace, a woman in an olive long-coat. Her red hair hung loose over h
Mar 25, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, first-read
A chef is kidnapped by a beautiful, red-haired female pirate captain and forced to cook her gourmet meals. There are so many ways this book could have gone wrong, but it avoided the pitfalls to be a very fun, exciting and at times serious read.

I was afraid the book would be fluff, falling into cliches of the misunderstood and noble pirate who would not actually harm anyone, and the prissy, pampered chef. But it wasn't long before those cliches were jettisoned like so many cannonballs. (Though he
Diane S ☔
Feb 11, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This extremely inventive novel takes place in 1819 on the high seas, when Owen Wedgewood, chef to Lord Ramsey, is kidnapped by the notorious pirate Hannah Mabbot. After killing Lord Ramsey, who was at dinner, Mabbot eats some of the food on the table and falls in love with the cooking skills of Wedgewood. It is his narration we follow and a well written one it is, in short Wedgewood is a wordsmith, his prose is a wonder. Mabbot promises not to kill him if he makes her a sumptuous dinner every Su ...more
Jun 22, 2015 Rincey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015
That was even better than I expected

Watch my full review:
Jul 03, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: Trish's review
Recipe for Fun
*Take one rather priggish and rigid chef, Owen Wedgewood, kidnapped from the scene of his employer’s murder, rendering him rather traumatized;
*Add one saucy lady pirate, the infamous Hannah Mabbot, who’s chasing another pirate for reasons no one but she knows, while being herself pursued by an inventor seaman determined to destroy her with innovative weaponry;
*Sprinkle in an assortment of motley pirates who crew Mabbot’s ship The Flying Rose and a young mute cabin boy who becomes,
Whitley Birks
Aug 20, 2014 Whitley Birks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
See more reviews on my blog.

So, like most of my five-star reads, this one gets that final push due purely to that THIS WAS JUST SO PERFECT FOR MEEEEEEEEE! factor. A lot of my readers probably wouldn’t actually like it all that much. And to be honest, it has a lot of things in it that I usually don’t enjoy, but that were done with enough panache to carry me through. Caveat out of the way? Okay, onward!

May 23, 2013 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, lets talk about this cover. It's gorgeous no? The colour, the artwork, the smoking gun, and the badass female pirate with her chef. I love it. It sets a tone for the book.

Okay, this book was an imagery feast for me. Brown really created quite the visual adventure with the beautiful contrast of gritty and dark pirate life with the comforting feeling that could only be brought on by enjoying a deliciously cooked meal (seriously, don't read this book on a hungry stomach). He spares no
I absolutely LOVED “Cinnamon and Gunpowder.” It’s one of those books you're almost reluctant to finish because then you'll have to admit it's finally over. The author did a smash up job mingling something along the lines of “Pirates of the Caribbean” with mouthwatering food. It took me a bit longer to finish than normal, but I fully think this book is one that’s meant to be savored. The few times I read more than a few chapters I felt somewhat hollow. It was as though I wasn’t able to fully abso ...more
Dec 08, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
I love cooking and better still eating. To me a pleasure equal to the above two is reading about them. So when I read the blurb of this book I jumped into it. And I should say it has certainly quailed my hunger regarding the foodie aspect. It was indeed delicious!

Apart from the food references I loved the rather unusual plot. A personal chef is kidnapped by a female pirate - The Mad Mabbot- the terror of trading ships. He is forced to cook for her in exchange for his life and so the tale begins
Annie Leonard
I lost an entire day to this darn book, it was so fun, sensual, suspenseful, and even enlightening. Told entirely in journal entries, this is the story of a pirate queen with an agenda, who takes a famous chef captive during a precision strike on land, and informs him that he must cook something fabulous and different for her each Sunday. Her ship is staffed with a great cast of pirate characters, each with a past, of course, including the first mate, a giant of a man who spends his free time kn ...more
I enjoyed this despite the total divergence with the kind of story I expected from the synopsis. It was still an engaging story and though it lacked in humour and adventure as well as likable characters it was well written and a worthy read. Well, worth the three stars:)
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Dec 08, 2015 Kris - My Novelesque Life rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Fiction
Recommended to Kris - My Novelesque Life by: Retro Chapter Chicks
Written by Eli Brown
2013, 318 Pages
Genre: fiction, adventure, cooking


When ruthless pirates take over his Master's house and murder him Chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by their Captain, Mad Hannah Mabbot. She loves luxury items and so spares Owen's life if he can make her extravagant meals once a week - never repeating a recipe. Wanting to stay alive he uses the crude materials around him to make his own masterpieces.

In between those Sunday meals, Owen looks for a way to
Well, after several crappy tries, I've finally got this to stick.


So, I thought the title was funny. Most of the times, that's all there is to my reading habits - the title is great or the cover is pretty. Needless to say, most covers these days are pretty and titles inventive, but the contents are as stale as ever. But this book, Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder is the rare book that feeds my questionable habit. I loved it.

Generally, I'm not too enamored with the idea of swashbuckling pira
Mar 08, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very unusual book, at times humorous, at other times tragic. The descriptions of food, and of Owen attempting to cook with limited ingredients in an ill-equipped galley, had the air of a fairy tale. The author made things that I'm sorry, I absolutely would not touch, sound like the most mouth-watering feast imaginable. But contrasted to that was the reality of life on a pirate ship: dirty, nasty, full of bugs and rats and deprivation. I really was not sure if he was going for contrast, or it w ...more
The foodie part of me loved this to a five. The language was a romp itself. But the History major part of me couldn't swallow the disbelief to the general plot and progression. Still, a fun read and one that introduces many educational aspects of ships and sailing as it occurred in the earlier decades of the 1800's. Going on a sea voyage of any kind, let alone on a pirate crew, not for sissies!
Kara Rae Garland
I'm almost done with this book and I just have to say that it is absolutely delightful. Owen Wedgewood's indignation is amusing and descriptions of his painstakingly won meals luxuriant. I haven't read many books about pirates so I can confidently say this is the best I've ever read.
J Edward Tremlett
It should go without saying that being captured by pirates is never an easy thing. The company is questionable, the conditions are terrible, and you never know when they’ll tire of having you around and toss you over the side, or worse.

So when Owen Wedgewood — chef to the late Lord Ramsey — is bundled up with the rest of the loot when Mad Hannah Mabbot comes to call, he can only expect the worst. However, it just so happens that this pirate queen has a taste for the finer things in life, and she
I mean, how could I possibly resist a book with a quote on the back cover that says, "Cinnamon and Gunpowder reads as if Joss Whedon and Patrick O'Brian sailed to Copenhagen together and, after surviving a ninja attack and a firefight at sea, fell in love over a seven course meal at Noma"? Well, I couldn't.

I'm not entirely sure I'd describe this book in the same way, but man, I enjoyed it. A lot. But then, I kind of have a thing for pirates and food, and that sums this book up pretty nicely.

I n
Well, I tried... I tried to suspend disbelief for this book, and also to overlook some of the overly wordy nature of the writing (show, don't tell!). All in all, it took too much effort before I decided to call it quits.

The idea behind the plot is unique, but there was so much that was highly implausible and ridiculous, that it just seemed nonsensical. It felt like the author was trying to force modern ideas and words into the 19th century, and it didn't work. It was also hard to follow certain
Sep 06, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is indeed a rollicking adventure on the high seas!

The year is 1819 and Chef Owen Wedgewood is kidnapped by the villainous red haired pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot when she kills his master, Lord Ramsey. In return for his life and keep she orders that he must cook her a sumptuous meal every Sunday. With hard tack and dried horsemeat the mainstays of the pirate kitchen, Owen must use all his skills and inventiveness to cook superlative meals each week.

Hannah is on a quest to rid the world of the
Jan 11, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent storytelling. Normally I wouldn't want to read about pirates, but the endearing and quirky characters, the details of cuisine, and the opium war/tea trade historical background made this book compelling.
Apr 29, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 Deliciously Piratical Stars

Pirates, explosions and Gourmet? Oh my!
The basic premise that a chef taken captive on a pirate ship forced to cook one gourmet meal a week for the dastardly lady pirate, is a wonderful hook. Yet this book offers so much more than mere echoes of the Romantic adventure stories. Eli Brown tantalizes the reader's taste and smell with evocative descriptions of ingredients, cooking and final serving. If you enjoy food and reading of food then Owen Wedgewood is your dea
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Eli Brown lives on the edge of an oak forest in California with his family. His first novel, THE GREAT DAYS, won the Fabri Literary Prize. NPR Book Review called his latest novel, CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER, "Food porn and a swashbuckling adventure..."
More about Eli Brown...

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“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness. The angels, who know no hunger, have never been as satisfied.” 18 likes
“I've had this pain. To tell you it will go away would be a lie. It will never go away. But, if you live long enough, it will cease to torture and will instead flavor you. As we rely on the bitterness of strong tea to wake us, this too will become something you can use.” 16 likes
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