On the front of this book it says “a work of comic genuis” (Independent on Sunday). It’s true.

This is the story of a Tuscan mountain with two foreign occupants. One is writer Gerald, a camp and wildly self-deluded Englishman, ghostwriter to assorted strange celebrities. The other is musician Marta, a talented fugitive from fictional East European hell-hole Voynovia, and in denial about the fact that the intellectual film with the famous director for which she is composing the score is, in fact, a porn movie.

Gerald and Marta both wished for total isolation so having any neighbour at all is a disappointment but, worse, they cannot stand one another. Yet they become increasingly neighbourly somehow and drink startling amounts of Fernet Branca, each astonished by the quantity that the other manages to consume.

The best bit is the recipes. They are insane. The book is worth reading, just for the recipes.

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