Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

This novel is a gem. It has well drawn characters, action, romance, poignancy, great diction, and it’s just delightful. The story is of a chef who is kidnapped by pirates.

My best friend is a library technician, but I read more than her. She saw a post at her library’s book recommendation board. She said the main character and narrator is similar to the Crane brothers from “Frasier,” a show we both love.

Indeed, Owen Wedgewood does remind me of Frasier Crane with a dash of Niles, but that is just the surface of how fun this book is. It has interesting characters and lots of history points. In fact, the climactic moments of this novel take place in the South China Sea, in the Pearl River Delta, and in Macau which are places I am very familiar with.

The writing is elegant as befitting the narrator who is a master chef. Brown is great at historical fiction and adventure, but he’s a great food writer as well. This novel was almost written for me especially with the character development and romance that happens toward the end.

Sad and tragic things happen in this novel, but it’s not swept under or made mawkish. The writer has a deft touch. Furthermore, I love the vocabulary of the novel. I had to refresh my memory and look up a few words. I really enjoy that as I love words, and I find most novels don’t challenge my vocabulary anymore. This one does and it’s splendid.

If you enjoy pirates, food, and history, I’d highly recommend this novel. This was a great reading start to the new year.

Read January 3-4th, 2015.

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