‘That night Stasia took an oath, swearing to learn the recipe by heart and destroy the paper. And when she was lying in her bed again, recalling the taste with all her senses, she was sure that this secret recipe could heal wounds, avert catastrophes, and bring people happiness. But she was wrong.’
At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …
Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.
Tumbling down the years, and across vast expanses of longing and loss, generation after generation of this compelling family hears echoes and sees reflections. Great characters and greater relationships come and go and come again; the world shakes, and shakes some more, and the reader rejoices to have found at last one of those glorious old books in which you can live and learn, be lost and found, and make indelible new friends.
‘No doubt Nino Haratischwili is one of the most important voices in contemporary German literature.’
‘Everybody requires a new, vigorous narrative of European ideals, of the European past. ... Nino Haratischwili has created this narrative in her new novel.’
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
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‘Nino Haratischwili has written a great book: a book which ranges over a century and half of the globe; a book however, within which — as in the infant’s experience — everything is only love and dread. It is a coup!’
‘Not only in its length does this novel resemble the work of Boris Pasternak. You will not want to put it down. The red century devours a family, and history comes with a pinch of chocolate — Like Water for Chocolate, even.’