'The Telling Room' by Michael Paterniti
Published on Monday, February 10, 2014 - 5:08pm
The Telling Room is a book that is about all of the things it claims in its title, as well as many others. The main character in the book is Ambrosio, a large and boisterous man who lives in Castile, a region of Spain that is known for its unforgiving climate as well as its history.
This is a place where each family has their own family wine, family crops, and sometimes, family cheese recipe that has been passed down through the generations. Ambrosio attempts to recreate the cheese that he remembers eating as a child, to honor his family legacy. After many attempts, he is finally successful, and word about the quality of the cheese soon spreads far beyond the borders of the village, including to the Queen of England and the Royal Family of Spain.
It is here where the plot thickens, as the success of Ambrosio’s cheese leads to the betrayal in the book’s title (at least in Ambrosio’s mind). The author spent over a decade working on this book, staying in Spain on numerous occasions, and even bringing his wife and two small children there for a summer. This amount of dedication allows the story to touch on so many interesting topics, including history, language, and politics.
The book never loses its sense of joy, however, due to both Ambrosio’s huge personality and the author’s love for his subject. It is a beautiful story about life, and all of its complications.