This is a most unusual novel. Set in 15th century Tuscany, it's a tale of love, lust, food and life. It features broad and bawdy comedy, poignant drama, rhyming dialogue (said to be in imitation of the peasant dialect of the place and time), random Italian words and phrases, commedia dell'arte elements, authorial asides, sensual descriptions of the joys of eating a tomato and creative explanations for the origin of foods such as tomato sauce and pizza.
I've noted that the book polarises opinion. Goodreads reviewers seem to either love it or hate it. I fall into the former camp. Although I thought the narrative dragged just a little bit in the middle (although that could have been because of my mood and not because of the writing), there was lots in Schell's writing to make me smile and enough in the plot to make me want to know how it turned out. The descriptions of food were a definite plus, although for reasons which I won't go into here, I may never look at a vat of homemade tomato sauce in quite the same way again!
While I found the novel a very enjoyable read, I can understand why it doesn't have universal appeal. I don't think it's possible to predict which readers will like the book, so I won't take on the responsibility of recommending it. Readers will know whether they are going to like it by the end of the first chapter. For my part, I'm glad I read a GR friend's enthusiastic review, because otherwise this novel would never have come my way. (Thanks Tracey!)