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The Ice-Cream Makers: A Novel Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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“[A] moving story of how sacrifices accumulate in the wake of passions left unfulfilled.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Van der Kwast tells his multigenerational tale with great sensitivity, demonstrating through powerful observations the long-term effect of one person's decision upon others throughout the generations. A delightful read; smooth as ice cream on a hot summer day.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"Ernest van der Kwast tells about love between man and woman, about love between two brothers, and about the moment when both vanish. Sensuous, heartfelt, deliciously beautiful." (Brigitte magazine)
‘Style, timing, and a flair for language: Van der Kwast is one of the best!’ (Vrij Nederland)
About the Author
Ernest van der Kwast made his breakthrough with the novel Mama Tandoori, which became a bestseller in the Netherlands and Italy ad sold more than 100,000 copies. The Ice-Cream Makers entered the Der Spiegel bestseller list immediately after publication in Germany and remained there for several weeks. He lives in Rotterdam.
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Top customer reviews
This is the story of one Italian family, bedded in the mores and traditions of the Dolomites, who create wonderful recipes for commercial ice cream.
Way back when, in the Autumn/Winter time the menfolk would set out on foot from Venas Di Cadore (near Cortina d’Ampezzo) to walk to Vienna (imagine! That’s well over 500km and easily a three week walk away) to sell locally collected Italian chestnuts. It was in the Austrian capital that an ice cream machine was spotted and Giuseppe Talamini was soon lugging the equipment back to his home village. It took a while to create and master the recipes but he persevered. Ice had to be collected from the glaciers and transported back to the village, dripping as it melted, to feed the rotating ice-cream drum. Giuseppe experimented with mouth-watering flavours, honed the balance of ingredients and soon he had the local populace asking for more. A family business was successfully established!
Through the generations the Talamini family set up their Summer shop in Rotterdam and now the current generation is due to take over the concern. Luca soon gets stuck in but brother Giovanni has his heart set elsewhere, a literary career focussed on poetry beckons. For him “a life without poetry was a life less lived”.
This is as much as story about ice cream as about family and brotherly love, splintered by internecine upset. Both brothers set their eye on Sophia, but it is Luca with whom she makes her life. Theirs, however, is a troubled marriage. The pressure of bearing a child mounts, yet the years pass, no child appears and soon Sophia is sinking into depression. How can the brothers reconcile, how can the tradition of ice cream making continue in the family…???
If you are after a sensory and emotional journey with the odd scoop of lemon sage or orange or vanilla or cherry ice cream to help you on your way, then do choose this book. It occasionally meanders off course, but soon comes back to a being a satisfying and interesting read. All credit to the translator Laura Vroomen.
The Ice-Cream Makers is set in both Rotterdam and Northern Italy and is the multi-generational story of the Talamini family and their ice-creaming making dynasty.
It centres around two brothers; Giovanni, the oldest who decides to branch out from tradition and lead a life filled with words, festivals, travel, and independence; And Luca the youngest who does what is expected and continues the family business of making ice cream like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather did before him.
The prose is rich and sophisticated. The characters are unique, diligent, and authentic. And the story is ultimately about family, sacrifice, responsibility, guilt, tradition, love, poetry, and ice cream.
Overall the Ice-Cream Makers is a well written, fascinating story that reminds us that family legacies can often be a blessing and a curse, that the choices we make often have far-reaching consequences, and that ice cream is the result of mouth-watering ingredients, a complex process, and a lot of hard work.