Set in Renaissance Florence and Rome, this is the fictional telling of the life of Catherine De Medici. The main character in this book is Tommaso, the personal chef to the duchess. Together they leave Florence when she is called to Rome as part of a political scheme that includes her marriage to the son of the King of France. But Catherine is a willful woman with plans of her own. A frolicking trek through the Italian countryside, this is an entertaining historical fantasy. This book introduced me to crostini and there is enough detail that you can prepare the Italian dish. Cooking figures strongly in this story, there are even period recipes included. My favorite character is the Little Kitchen Goddess, Gattamelata, the tortoiseshell cat!
highly enjoyed this book- fun setting (renaissance Italy) with great alternate history.
This an alternate history set in medieval Rome and Florence (it wasn't actually Italy back then, but a set of warring city-states.) Lots of tricky political infighting, and it's hard to tell who is friend and who is foe. Guess Politics never changes, right?
From back cover: Tommaso Arista is the son of two of the most prestigious families of chefs in Florence. His father is the head chef and carver to the household of Cosimo Ruggerio, noble astrologer to the Pope and a powerful political figure in Florence and Rome. His mother is one of the Befanini--hereditary cooks of the de' Medici family, bound to the Dukes of Florence by centuries of both service and blood, family in all but name. The Befanini serve the Little Kitchen Goddess as well as the de' Medici, and Piera is a powerful seer. Tommaso has been named the personal chef to the Duchessina, Catherine de' Medici. Catherine, orphaned at birth, is the only legitimate heir of the staggering Medici fortune and titles. Most of the world, especially her uncle the Pope, see her as a useful and valuable pawn in the political struggle for control of the Holy Roman Empire. But to Tommaso, she is his friend and confidante, as well as his employer and the holder of his fealty. Together they leave Florence when Pope Clement recalls her to Rome to use her and her dowry in his political maneuverings with the crowns of Europe. But Catherine has other plans for her future, and they do not include a marriage with the younger son of the King of France. Set in Renaissance Florence and Rome, this fantasy retelling of the life of Catherine de' Medici is as beautiful and as richly magical as the works of the great artists who people its pages.