Saturday, 28 May 2016

Review: Rosalia's Bittersweet Pastry Shop by Rosanna Chiofalo

In Rosanna Chiofalo’s touching novel, a unique pastry shop features mouthwatering creations that have the power to change one woman’s life… Food writer Claudia Lombardo has sampled exquisite dishes by the world’s greatest chefs. But when she hears about the remarkable desserts that are created in a pastry shop operated out of a convent in the sleepy Italian hillside town of Santa Lucia del Mela, she wants to write a book featuring the sweets and the story behind their creator—Sorella Agata. But the convent’s most famous dessert—a cassata cake—is what really intrigues Claudia.

Everyone who samples the cake agrees it is like none other they’ve tasted. Yet no one can figure out what makes the cassata so incredibly delicious. Though Sorella Agata insists there is no secret ingredient, Claudia is determined to learn the truth behind the mysterious cake. As she samples each delectable treat—marzipan fruit, rich cream puffs, and decadent cakes—Sorella Agata relates the pastry shop’s history and tells of the young woman, Rosalia, who inspired her.

Kidnapped and separated from her family, Rosalia is subjected to a terrible ordeal—until the nuns find her. As she heals, she learns the art of pastry making, and soon she even finds love with Antonio—an apprentice in the pastry shop. But her heart still aches for the family she lost. And Rosalia knows she will not be whole again until she is reunited with them.

As Claudia unravels the secret of the cassata cake, she discovers a deeper, fascinating story—one that affirms food can do more than nourish the body…it can stir memories, heal the deepest heartaches, and even act as a bridge to those we love, no matter how far apart.

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 31st 2016 by Kensington

Terri's Thoughts

I received and advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is May 31st, 2016.

I need to be upfront about my thoughts on this story.  I took a risk when I selected this book for two reasons.  First being that the title is very odd.  The second is that the story takes place in a convent.  I could not visualize where the story would take me.

Let me tell you the risk paid off!  I absolutely loved it!  Having literally just finished reading the last sentence, I am currently experiencing that feeling you get when a story really touches you.  You know that feeling that you just can't put in to words?  Where you will find yourself thinking about the story long after finishing it?  Avid readers will know this feeling I talk of, and please, someone tell me a good word for it!

It is no secret that I am a big fan of this type of story.  Where the secrets of today are answered by the secrets of the past.  Where the story slowly unfolds of the past as you anxiously wait to find out what happened to the characters and are almost always certain it will be tragic.

The story of Rosalia was both tragic and uplifting.  While her journey did not take her where I wished it would have, I knew it would not.  The big secret reveal was really not so much to the reader as it was obvious pretty early on, as was the "secret" ingredient.  Regardless, the story captured me and kept me glued to the pages until the story ended.

I have a love/hate relationship with this feeling I currently have.  I say get past the weird title and pick this one up.  As an added bonus there are all sorts of recipes at the end for how to make the pastries mentioned in the book.  Which reminds me, you may not want to pick this up on an empty stomach, the pages are filled with sinfully delicious sounding pastries!

About the Author

Rosanna Chiofalo is a first-generation Italian American whose parents emigrated from Sicily to New York in the early 1960s. She is the author of Bella Fortuna, Carissima, Stella Mia, Rosalia's Bittersweet Pastry Shop, and the novella "Seven Days of Christmas" which appears in the WHEN THE SNOW FALLS collection. She lives with her husband in New York City.


1 comment:

  1. Nice review. I loved this book too. Especially the food descriptions ! :)