We’re having a bountiful FEAST this Labor Day weekend at Thoughts on This ‘n That.
FEAST of SORROW is the FOOD NETWORK meets HBOs, ROME!
Debut author, Crystal King ushers us into another time in history in her novel, FEAST of SORROW: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Touchstone). Taking nearly a decade to research and write, it’s a four-hundred plus page journey through Ancient Rome highlighting the opulence, shrewd political maneuvering, fabulous food and relationships from the powerful ruling class to the slaves.
In the year 1 B.C.E., at a slave market, Apicius pays a king’s ransom for Thrasius, an excellent coquus (cook) who can prepare the decadent spreads Apicius’ banquets are known for. Thrasius soon becomes indispensable to Apicius’ household, which includes loyal Egyptian bodyguard Sotas, wife, Aelia, daughter, Apicata, and Apicata’s slave, Passia, with whom Thrasius falls in love.
Thrasius and Apicius become partners in a cooking school and write a cookbook together. ON COOKERY, the world first cookbook, a codex attributed to Apicius, does exist. FEAST OF SORROW serves up a banquet of recipes which appear throughout the book, featuring exotic ingredients like liquamen, a fish sauce, and silphium, a wild herb so delicious it was apparently rendered extinct by ancient foodie foragers.
Apicius was a real wealthy Roman patrician. He’s famous for his immoral conduct, as well as a palate, so precise that when he was down to what his other wealthy persons considered a small fortune, he committed suicide because he could no longer afford the best ingredients.
King’s novel is an accurate scholarly work, as well as an entertaining endeavour, which explores thirty years of salacious sex, intrigue and epicure, as Apicius and his family existence under the reign of Augustus Caesar and his successor, Tiberius. It swept me into another time, where I learned and enjoyed a piece of delicious history.
The historical characters are written with such detail, you get to know them intimately. The elaborate descriptions of food, including the historical significance can not be highlighted enough.
One of the first things that attracted to me to FEAST of SORROW was the cover. It’s absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of paintings I’ve seen in museums throughout the world. It’s the combination of a photograph and two oil paintings: “Abundant Fruit” (1858) and “A Banquet Still Life” (1631-1695). Simply beautiful and fitting for a novel of such significance.
I am a novelist, editor, professor, social media professional, and critical & creative thinker. My work as a writer is the thread that ties my broad experience together.
I am also writing my second novel, THE SECRET CHEF, about a famous Italian Renaissance chef, Bartolomeo Scappi, who was the cuoco segreto (private cook) to several Popes.
I have taught writing, creativity and social media at UMass Boston, Boston University, Mass College of Art, and Harvard Extension School. I often teach classes on social media for authors at Grub Street, one of the most amazing writing communities in the country.
To connect with Crystal, check out her website http://www.crystalking.com There you’ll find amazing delicious recipes that we mere mortal, non-chefs can attempt! Chefs will be in heaven.
Thanks to Crystal, we have two signed copies of her delicious novel, FEAST of SORROW: A Novel of Ancient Rome to giveaway. Just tell us what your favorite Italian meal is. We’ll announce winners next week.