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The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail. To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he's making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.
But Mabbot - who exerts a curious draw on the chef - is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot's madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.
Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure's adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story - with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Erin - Audible on 06-26-13
a win for me
Cinnamon & Gunpowder is one of those books that you think you can explain quickly. You can’t. The basic elements (wild-haired lady pirate, stuffy chef, excellently-named nemeses, and high-stakes adventure) combine into a fantastical gumbo as wonderful as the cooking described within. It all seemed simple at first, but then when attempting to describe the plot to a friend, I found myself standing on a chair, thrusting a cutlass at imaginary rivals, shouting “OH! OH! AND THEN—“; it begs exclamation and exuberance.
Though exciting on the surface, Brown is also telling a deeper story of corruption, loyalty, the benefits of moral ambiguity, and ultimately, how we make our families. I haven’t been this excited about a leading female character in a long time. Highly recommended for fans of Blood Bones & Butter, Bloody Jack, and Downton Abbey - Master and Commander fans, you’re encouraged to take note as well. If you like adventure, if you like pirates, if you like food, this book belongs in your library.
James Langton's narration is not entirely what I was expecting, but I think he did a good job of relaying the protagonist's worldview and generally stuffiness.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By G. P. Brown on 04-15-16
Not what I was hoping for.
This turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I think it was most likely a victim of my false expectations. I was expecting a fun and hilarious historical romance romp. What I actually got was a weird historical fiction with a touch of fantasy and a tiny bit of romance.
Mad Hannah Mabbot, the notorious pirate captain, is a terror on the high seas and a thorn in the side of the prominent Pendelton Trading Company. During a raid where she kills a high ranking Pendelton official Lord Ramsey she decides to kidnap his cook. That cook is Owen Wedgwood. She gives Owen a simple choice, cook her a Sunday meal fit for a Queen each week or suffer the same fate as his former master.
My main issue with this was the lack of humor and romance. It was a fairly dark read at times as the pirates were not the most moral of characters you will ever encounter. It also painted a fair picture of life in the 1800s, which was pretty bleak for a lot of people! I did warm a bit to both Mabbot and Owen towards the end of the story, but they were hardly the most likeable characters I've ever encountered.
All in all this recovered from a bad start to solidify into a fairly average story.
James Langton did a decent job with the audio.
By Frederiek van Rhijn on 10-24-13
What did you like most about Cinnamon and Gunpowder?
I liked this book from the very beginning! The voice is very pleasant to listen to. This is the way I like an audiobook to be narrated. This is how I like my audiobooks. If you like this book, then also listen to A high wind in Jamaica by Richard Huges. It is also about pirates (and children) and also a nice story and very well read.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The cook, of course
Have you listened to any of James Langton’s other performances? How does this one compare?
Not yet, but I will in future!
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It was hilarious at times