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December 31, 2010 > Book Review: Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece

Book Review: Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece

A book review by Robert A. Garfinkle

Is this really a memoir or a novel? I asked myself that question several times as I read this fascinating tale. It reads like a novel told in the first person, not the usual bland "who cares" memoir of a non-celebrity.

This book is about a multi-cultural relationship - between an Italian family and a Greek husband's world. Although their life together never really gets off to a good start, Patricia is willing to follow Gregori to live in Greece. Not fully accepted in Greece, even after becoming a successful businesswoman, she struggles to learn how to be Greek in order to please her husband's family.

Conflicts abound, but along the way we learn a lot about Greek culture, lifestyles, and the Greek Orthodox religion. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the book and Ms. Davis gave me many reasons to feel empathy for her and her tangled situation. In any novel or memoir, the author can only be successful if the reader feels empathy for the main character. In this case, the author has succeeded.

You just never know the strange things that can happen while reading a book. In this case, the harlot's sauce that Ms. Davis uses in her book comes from a cheap food that Neapolitan prostitutes created. As luck would have it, this past August I was reading the final pages of the book while on a cruise ship docked at the port of Naples, Italy. On the page following the end of this memoir, Ms. Davis has included the recipe for harlot's sauce and tells that it came from Naples. I grabbed my camera and asked a fellow passenger to take my picture on the aft deck holding the book with the city of Naples in the background. If I had come to the end of the book a day later, I would have missed this rare opportunity.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms. Davis's book. I found the book to be a quick read, because once I was into the mixed-cultural world Ms. Davis created, I could not put the book down. I know that is an old clichˇ, but it fits this time. I think that you will also enjoy the book.

Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece by Patricia Volonakis Davis, 2008 Pp 265, $13.95, paperback, Harper Davis Publishing (ISBN 978-0-9819153-0-2)

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