Anna Janelle's Reviews > John Saturnall's Feast

John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk
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Oct 02, 12

bookshelves: first-reads, advanced-reader-copy
Read from September 05 to 29, 2012 — I own a copy

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Even though it took me nearly a MONTH to finish reading (*shakes fist angerly at graduate school assignments*), it was an bewitching story of love, old traditions, religion, history and food. And yes, pun intended.

Young John is orphaned by his mother, who is chased out of her village due to embracing old traditions (see also: accusations of witchcraft) that contradict with the prevailing Christian sentiment of the times. While starving to death so John might eat, she passes on the tradition of "the feast," a feast that belongs to all and is recorded in an ancient text. After her untimely death, John is entrusted to a local Lord's manor, where he is placed as a servant in the kitchen. The knowledge that his mother imparted prior to her death (along with his remarkable sense of smell) enables John to excel as in the kitchen. The daughter of Lord William, Lady Lucretia, a finicky, defiant girl given to fasts, becomes the object of John's affections, despite being betrothed to a spoiled, cowardly drunkard. The story of their forbidden romance and the struggles of the manor to keep afloat despite threats of war, starvation, and religious zealots comprise the majority of this heart-felt historical novel.

Feast or famine, I would definitely recommend the book to other food-o-philes, history buffs and romantics alike. An extra-special thank you goes to Grove Press and author Lawrence Norfolk who shipped out this book to me after I did not receive it through the GoodReads First Reads program. I am so extremely grateful that I got to read this Advanced Reader’s Copy <3 It was an enchanting story that will make for a compelling re-read in later days, so, readers, place this on your wishlists and file it under “to own” someday.

I just cannot resist the lolcats. I know - serious problem, serious issues. Enjoy :)

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Reading Progress

09/16/2012 page 10
2.0% "Thank you so much to Grove/Atlantic Press publishers and author Lawrence Norfolk for this GoodReads First Reads opportunity. If the final release is half as gorgeous as this ARC, readers are in for a treat! The illustrations are gorgeous and the novel is off to an exciting start. I'm thrilled to be able to read this novel before its release in September 2012. Put it on your calendars now, and you won't regret it :)"
09/17/2012 page 62
14.0% "Norfolk's writing draws the reader in with his clear, clean writing. The dialogue is fresh and realistic. He's spinning a mature coming of age tale involving witchcraft and one town's persecution of the suspected woman (Susan) and her son (John). I'm loving this so far!"
09/18/2012 page 131
31.0% "Hard to put down. A beautiful blend of historical fiction and a mild fantasy. <3 I really hope poor John makes it in the kitchen. Side note: what a sad title to think about when given the circumstances surrounding his mother's exile and what occurred afterwards."
09/24/2012 page 180
43.0% "Finally back to reading after a long weekend of homeworking. I love how the mystery surrounding John's birth and mother are being played out. So, so, so delicious. It's hell to read when you're hungry though. So many descriptions of food :)"
09/29/2012 page 288
69.0% "A drastic departure from the kitchen to the battlefield. It's KILLING ME I haven't had time to finish this read."
09/29/2012 page 416
100.0% "Gorgeous. Simply beautiful. A love story, a cookbook, historical fiction at its best. Review to come as soon as my heart stops melting. The food! The romance! I'm so glad I read this book. This story will stay with me, of this I have no doubt."

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