The Telling Room

  • by Michael Paterniti
  • Narrated by L.J. Ganser
  • 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction, 2014
In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as "the telling room". Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets - usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine.
It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong.... By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale-like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta.
What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing.
Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers.
A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, July 2013 - I consider myself a foodie, but never have I found myself so emotionally invested in any food, let alone a piece of cheese. Michael Paterniti’s sophisticated prose awakened my taste buds and transported me to a remote, other-worldly village in Spain where I came to crave Páramo de Guzmán, arguably the world’s greatest (and most expensive) piece of cheese. The Telling Room, however, ignited within me much more than a simple food craving. Paterniti’s expertly woven narrative, with detailed descriptions of both people and land, invoked within me nostalgia for a simpler time. At the center of Paterniti’s memoir is Ambrosio,the passionate Spanish cheesemaker, betrayed by his best friend, living with revenge in his heart in a land where grudges last a lifetime. As Paterniti gets implicated in Ambrosio’s tale, so does the listener, and the journey is every bit as satisfying as an excellent piece of cheese. I was fortunate enough to read an advanced copy of this book, and it’s such a delight to now listen to it in audio with L.J. Ganser as narrator. —Katie, Audible Editor

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A little too long but good nevertheless

Is there anything you would change about this book?

First time I've found the reader to detract. Too much artifice/contrived in words chosen.


What did you like best about this story?

Humor, learned a lot about Spain, history of Spain and world incorporated in to story,


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of L.J. Ganser?

ANYONE.


If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No.


Any additional comments?

Too long - not enough pace in story. Too much digression and redundant.

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- Kathryn Bell

Unbearable narration.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. The narration made it impossible for me to stick with this book. The reader was over the top and stilted--cringe-worthy. He mispronounced a number of words and was just wrong for the book. Maybe he'd be good with self-help books, but not literature.


What did you like best about this story?

Terrific story and well written.


How could the performance have been better?

The narrator read this as though he was reading a storybook to children. His delivery was just too emotive...I tried to block it out so I could hear the words, but it was too much for me. I want to point out, however, that many Audiobook readers appeared to like the narration, so it just may be a style that doesn't work for me. I like a flatter, quieter reading so that I am hearing the words, not the narrator's PERFORMANCE of them. This narrator was like a very bad actor in a high school play...again, that's how it came off to me. Best to listen to a clip first.


Was The Telling Room worth the listening time?

Not sure. Depends on whether you can accept the narrator's style. Would recommend reading the print version, though. I think it's probably a wonderful book.


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Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-30-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios