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The Wedding Officer
Cover of The Wedding Officer
The Wedding Officer
A Novel
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In the sumptuous tradition of Chocolat and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and already optioned for a major motion picture, comes a magical tale of romantic passion, culinary delight--and Italy.

Captain James Gould arrives in wartime Naples assigned to discourage marriages between British soldiers and their gorgeous Italian girlfriends. But the innocent young officer is soon distracted by an intoxicating young widow who knows her way around a kitchen...Livia Pertini is creating feasts that stun the senses with their succulence--ruby-colored San Marzana tomatoes, glistening anchovies, and delectable new potatoes encrusted with the black volcanic earth of of Campania--and James is about to learn that his heart may rank higher than his orders. For romance can be born of the sweet and spicy passions of food and love--and time spent in the kitchen can be as joyful and exciting as the banquet of life itself!

From the Hardcover edition.
In the sumptuous tradition of Chocolat and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and already optioned for a major motion picture, comes a magical tale of romantic passion, culinary delight--and Italy.

Captain James Gould arrives in wartime Naples assigned to discourage marriages between British soldiers and their gorgeous Italian girlfriends. But the innocent young officer is soon distracted by an intoxicating young widow who knows her way around a kitchen...Livia Pertini is creating feasts that stun the senses with their succulence--ruby-colored San Marzana tomatoes, glistening anchovies, and delectable new potatoes encrusted with the black volcanic earth of of Campania--and James is about to learn that his heart may rank higher than his orders. For romance can be born of the sweet and spicy passions of food and love--and time spent in the kitchen can be as joyful and exciting as the banquet of life itself!

From the Hardcover edition.
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  • Chapter One Chapter One


    The day Livia Pertini fell in love for the first time was the day the beauty contest was won by her favorite cow, Pupetta.

    For as long as anyone in Fiscino could remember, the annual Feast of the Apricots had incorporated not only a competition to find the most perfect specimen of fruit from among the hundreds of tiny orchards that lined the sides of Monte Vesuvio, but also a contest to determine the loveliest young woman of the region. The former was always presided over by Livia's father, Nino, since it was generally accepted that as the owner of the village osteria he had a more subtle palate than most, while the latter was judged by Don Bernardo, the priest, since it was thought that as a celibate he would bring a certain objectivity to the proceedings.

    Of the two competitions, the beauty contest was usually the more good-natured. This was partly because it was unencumbered by the accusations of fixing, bribing and even stealing of fruit from another man's orchard that dogged the judging of apricots, but also because the girls of the village were remarkably similar in appearance–dark haired, olive skinned and built along the voluptuous lines that a diet of fresh air and pasta invariably produces–and it was thus a relatively simple matter to decide which one combined these features in the most pleasing way. The apricots were another matter altogether. Each time Vesuvius erupted, it covered its slopes with a deep layer of a remarkable natural fertilizer called potash, and as a result the mountain supported dozens of species of fruit and vegetables which grew nowhere else in all Italy, a culinary advantage which more than compensated for the area's occasional dangers. In the case of apricots, the varieties included the firm-fleshed Cafona, the juicy Palummella, the bittersweet Boccuccia liscia, the peachlike Pellecchiella and the spiky-skinned but incomparably succulent Spinosa. Each had its ardent champions, and the thought of the honor going to the wrong sort of apricot provoked almost as much debate as the decision over which farmer had produced the finest specimen of fruit.

    Livia was too busy to pay much attention to either contest. A feast day meant that the little osteria would be even busier at lunchtime than usual, and she and her sister Marisa had been up since before dawn preparing the dishes that would be spread out on the tables lining the length of the terrace, where vines provided shade from the fierce midday sun. In any case, she had a rather low opinion of both kinds of competition, her view being that with apricots it very much depended on what kind of mood you were in, while in the case of female beauty all the girls in the village got stared at quite enough already. Besides, everyone knew that one of the Farelli sisters would win in the end, and she didn't see why she should give them the satisfaction of beating her. So, while everyone else was out in the piazza, arguing, cheering, booing and clapping for the contenders, she concentrated on preparing the antipasto, deftly wrapping burrata in fresh asphodel leaves.

    "Hello?" a male voice called from the little room which doubled as a bar and a dining room. "Is anyone here?"

    Her hands were full of wet burrata and shreds of leaf. "No," she shouted back.

    There was a short pause. "Then I must be talking to an angel, or perhaps a ghost," the voice suggested. "If there's no one around, I don't usually get an answer."

    Livia rolled her eyes. A smart-ass. "I meant, there's no one to serve you. I'm busy."

    "Too busy to pour a glass of limoncello for a thirsty soldier?"

    "Too busy even for that," she said. "You can...
About the Author-
  • Anthony Capella is a lover of all things culinary who lives in Oxfordshire, England. His previous novels, The Wedding Officer and The Food of Love, have been translated into twenty-two languages. He is at work on his next novel.


    From the Hardcover edition.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 30, 2007
    London-based culinarian Capella (Food of Love) returns with the WWII-era story of Livia Pertini, a beautiful young widow who leaves her family's destitute country osteria to try to find work in Naples. There, English Capt, James Gould has been assigned the task of discouraging British soldiers from marrying Italian women, many of whom have turned to prostitution in order to survive. At first Gould is a stickler for the rules, closing down restaurants and denying couples permission to marry. But when Angelo, the maitre d' at restaurant Zi'Teresa, tricks him into hiring Livia as the officers' cook, things loosen up considerably. Capella celebrates war-torn pleasures of the flesh with a winning in-the-moment lightness.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2007
    Like his debut, The Food of Love, Capella's second novel is a sensory delight, highlighting the relationship between culinary pleasures and sensual romance. Wartime Naples is the setting for an unlikely love affair, which begins when British captain James Gould meets Livia Pertini, a widow who becomes James's cook. James is the so-called Wedding Officer, the soldier who approves marriage requests between local Italian women and British men, and humor is never in short supply as he repeatedly encounters prostitutes desiring to make advantageous marriages. With Livia, James experiences passion not only through their physical desire but also through Livia's food, with its rich colors and satisfying flavors. The trauma of wartime strains their relationship, however, especially when Livia must barter with an unsavory man in order to obtain medication for her ailing father. Capella's original tale is an expertly crafted work of women's fiction, complete with captivating characters and scintillating romance. Recommended for all public libraries.Sheri Melnick, Harrisburg, PA

    Copyright 2007 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist "Capella's vividly sensuous command of the arts of both food and romance will attract readers."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Capella again mingles amore with alimenti in this tale of a British officer who develops an appetite for all things Italian.... [The author's] prose becomes transcendent when he pours his heart into telling the story of Italian food."
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