Ugo DiFonte is the duke's food taster: the duke loves Ugo's daughter, the daughter loves the cook and Ugo alone can save them all, though any bite could be his last.
...... From the outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: For years after my mother hanged herself, I wished I had been older or stronger so that I could have stopped her.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: A small ball of light glowed between us. It was filled with memories of what might have been - two boys playing together, two young men, their arms linked in friendship, two brothers, companions in life. Then it was gone and an emptiness overcame me.
Ok, I confess, I largely picked up this book because of the cover - well, the blurb on the back cover was giving very little away.
A bawdy read in places (I was only 5 pages in and Ugo was talking about doing unmentionable things with a sheep) but very sad in others - The Food Taster mainly read like a comedy of errors.
The plot was so-so. More a 'high Renaissance romp' than a 'fairytale for grown-ups' - both of which were used to describe the book by one reviewer.
As for the characters? Unusual for me but I cannot think of even one character that I really liked, not one I really warmed to. They were all either rather dull and left you wondering why they had been included in the story at all OR not very nice, bordering on being the type you would avoid at all costs. Well written I give you, just not the type of character who will remain in my memory for any length of time.
So, was I right to judge a book by its cover? Being ex-library stock and costing only 25p it was a risk I was willing to take. Not without its merits - it was quite funny in places, even laugh out loud in one, possibly two - I cannot say it was a 'bad' book, just not a book I will be reading again.