"...beats its way slowly and deliciously through drizzling honey, buttered baking tins, quivering jellies and slabs of chocolate..."
Agnese describes a family life played out to the sole rhythm of her prize-winning, pastry-chef father's untiring commitment and all-consuming dedication to his art. Everything revolves around him, a grumpy, exacting genius, and the elegant coffee house on the ground floor of the building in which he both works and lives, and more importantly, at the heart of which is his beloved workshop. Family members and workers file before him in sequence, some as hard-working helpers, others his unrelenting critics, such as Filippo, his son, who spins further and further away from him in a spiral of anger. The frustrated expectations of the father, betrayed by his children's anxiousness to break free from his control, are transferred to newcomers to the family, foreigners, whose shy, retiring presence in the house seems, initially, to crystallize the air of remoteness and lack of communication looming over the others, but turns out, ultimately, to be no less than the renowned pastry-chef's future.
An instantly likeable story, both for the scrumptious idea of having a mouth-watering cream cake (the "chantilly cream delight" in the title) as the pivot of the plot, and for the clean, crisp prose that bristles with natural vitality and is unostentatiously honest. With a fearless voice and the carefree flippancy of her teenage years, Agnes describes a family life played out to the sole rhythm of her prize-winning, pastry-chef father's untiring commitment and all-consuming dedication to his art.
The fluid writing style makes not only for a real page-turner, while never detracting from the plot's numerous twists - including some that will grab the heart strings -, such as Aliej's character, or the profound melancholy Agnese feels for her father at one point, it also, very gently and very naturally, opens up and allows the reader into intense fragments of experience.
Erika Gallini was born in Udine in 1973. She lives in a small village in Friuli where she works as a civil engineer. Chantilly cream delight (original title: Tutto panna chantilly) is her first novel.
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