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Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374123667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374123666
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Brown transports readers to 1819 via the narration of Owen Wedgwood. He is the renowned chef for the wealthy owner of Pendleton Trading Company, an economic powerhouse that controls the ocean-shipping lines from east to west. When the infamous pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot commandeers their ship, Wedgwood watches her murder his employer, then steal his supper. Intoxicated by Wedgwood’s skill with a skillet, Mabbot forces him to cook for his life aboard her ship where she holds him prisoner. Soon he is swept up into Mabbot’s hunt for the Brass Fox, a rival rogue. At first this quest seems purely selfish, but as Wedgwood dines weekly with the captain, he begins to see the altruism that actually motivates the battle-hardened beauty. Brown concocts a clever tale in which history, ethics, action, and romance blend harmoniously. Tantalizing descriptions of the smells and flavors of the dishes Wedgwood creates may send readers running to their spice cabinets in search of the blends he exalts in, even as they are entranced by Brown’s delectable tale. --Amber Peckham

Review

"Food porn and rip-roaring adventure...you'll savor every bite" -NPR Book Review

"Both sizzling and swashbuckling." -Kirkus Reviews

"Most unusual . . . Think Babette's Feast meets Pirates of the Caribbean!" -Library Journal

"Brown concocts a clever tale in which history, ethics, action, and romance blend harmoniously. Tantalizing descriptions of the smells and flavors of the dishes Wedgwood creates may send readers running to their spice cabinets in search of the blends he exalts in, even as they are entranced by Brown's delectable tale." -Booklist

"An early nineteenth-century tale of culinary seduction and swashbuckling antics, featuring characters who evoke the desperate ingenuity of Scheherazade and the hell-bent ruthlessness of Ahab . . . Brown explores the mysteries of flavor with prose that any word-savoring foodie will delight in." -Publishers Weekly

More About the Author

Eli Brown lives on an experimental urban farm in Alameda, California. His first novel, The Great Days, won the Fabri Literary Prize. Publisher's Weekly said that his recent novel, Cinnamon and Gunpowder "...explores the mysteries of flavor with prose that any word-savoring foodie will delight in."

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Customer Reviews

The story built up nicely, stayed interesting throughout, and settled down to a fulfilling end.
I Do The Speed Limit
It's an unbearable horror then when his beloved employer is gunned down before his very eyes, murdered in cold blood by the notorious pirate, Mad Hannah Mabbott.
K. Sullivan
Characterizations are great, with each character distinctly drawn and absolutely necessary to the story.
J. Kramer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Janet Perry VINE VOICE on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have to admit it, the thought of plunking down a chef into a pirate novel sounds as if it just won't work. Setting in in 1819 when chefs were rare birds indeed made me even more skeptical. But the book was delightful.

Although many of the stock items of pirate and naval novels are present: international crews, naval battles, sailing around Africa, seeing them through the unwilling eyes of the captured chef (the book's narrator) gives them a certain freshness. As the book progresses he gradually becomes more like a pirate and more a part of the life of this ship.

The other main character, "Mad" Hannah Mabbott is his captor and the captain of the ship. Set on a deadly quest to find another pirate who is chasing her, she is also being pursued by a Frenchman with technological marvels on his ship, and, to make things worse, she has secrets in her past and a price on her head.

The chef is charged with cooking a meal for her each Sunday. On board a ship with no stove and with only the provisions he can find. His resourcefulness is delightful, if probably somewhat anachronistic.

The writing is excellent with the Captain's past and motivations revealed gradually but never leaving you feeling cheated that you might not know all. And the last third of the book is as exciting an adventure as one could wish.

What seemed like a strange combination of flavors at first ends up a tasty dish indeed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Sullivan VINE VOICE on April 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Owen Wedgwood is a God-fearing chef in the employ of the wealthy Lord Ramsey. In Owen's estimation, Ramsey is "as true and honest a gentleman as England ever sired." It's an unbearable horror then when his beloved employer is gunned down before his very eyes, murdered in cold blood by the notorious pirate, Mad Hannah Mabbott. Owen is abducted and imprisoned on her ship, the "Flying Rose." He's tasked with preparing the "finest supper" for his captor each Sunday. If his weekly fare is acceptable, he won't find himself swimming home, "whole or in pieces". Owen reluctantly undertakes this duty awaiting opportunity to escape. As he becomes acquainted with the motley crew he's joined, however, his quaint worldview is challenged. Confronted with the harsh realities of the opium trade, child prostitution, and slavery, he questions his allegiances. Maybe the good guys and the bad guys aren't as easily defined and things aren't as starkly black and white as he once believed.

The novel's crowning achievement is its eloquent prose. It transports the reader to the 1800's when the British Empire dominated much of the globe. The narrative is structured as Owen's secret diary entries during his captivity; an artifice that works well even if it's a bit stretched at times. The flowery language perfectly suits the setting. The work is filled with artful analogies and articulate descriptions that beg to be savored. The author, Eli Brown, makes poignant observations in elegant fashion. Never have more tantalizing descriptions of the culinary arts been set to paper. The novel is also rich in humor (a sublime description of a rabbit stands out, as do several exchanges between Owen and Mabbott).

Characterization is also very strong in the novel.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By N. Ferguson on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a unique and original telling of what is, in some ways, a very typical swashbuckling adventure. Chef Owen Wedgewood's transformation from an arrogant, obnoxious fellow to a part of the pirate crew in search of the dastardly Brass Fox is a fun, easy read, full of adventure. The hook, however, is the way in which we slowly learn about the pirate crew along with Wedgewood. So much of interest here- social and political dynamics, love, and the art of dining on a pirate ship! Recommended to anyone who is intrigued by the cover and the concept, and anyone who enjoys a character-driven story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Messersmith VINE VOICE on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Meet Owen Wedgwood, chef for Lord Ramsey, who is slain by pirates and Wedgwood is taken hostage. Not just any pirates either but by Mad Hannah Mabbot, known for her ruthlessness and her uncanny ability to save her own life time after time. Wedgwood is miserable on board this pirate ship and doesn't understand what they want with him since they slaughtered everyone else in the house with him. Pretty soon it becomes evident, as Captain Mabbot tells him he must prepare her a special meal every Sunday and she will spare his life. At first he's not even sure he wants his life spared but pretty soon he decides he does. It's not long before you are consumed by the dishes Wedgwood creates and you find yourself pulling for the pirates as they swashbuckle across the oceans. This book is beautifully written and casts a spell on the reader wherein you can't wait to get back to the book and find out what is happening to poor Wedgwood and what that wild red-haired pirate captain is up.

There are other notable characters as well. In particular and close to my heart is Joshua the deaf cabin boy who forms a special bond with Wedgwood. Mr. Apples, a giant of a man, is more than he first appears in the book. Then there are the Chinese twins, Feng and Bai, who one doesn't want to cross. Some of the other pirates get special mention in the book although in lesser roles. Then there are the bad guys who are pushing the opium trade and getting rich. You can see this book is rich with extraordinary characters.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves adventures, mysteries, love stories, and/or just a well told story. You won't be disappointed.
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