Rosalia’s Bittersweet Pastry Shop – Book Review

I’m an emotional fool. I cry while watching TV or Movies or while reading a good book. Also, most of my life’s learning have been through books. Real-life experiences too, of course, but more from books.

The one book which I loved and was most impacted by was ‘If Tommorrow Comes’ by Sidney Sheldon. Tracy Whitney was my favourite heroine and no one could come anywhere close to her god-like status in my mind. Rosalia’s Bittersweet Pastry Shop by Rosanna Chiofalo comes within an inch of If Tomorrow Comes.

The book blurb had promised a rich, chocolaty read.

Food writer Claudia Lombardo has sampled exquisite dishes by the world’s greatest chefs. But when she hears about the remarkable desserts that are created in a pastry shop operated out of a convent in the sleepy Italian hillside town of Santa Lucia del Mela, she wants to write a book featuring the sweets and the story behind their creator—Sorella Agata. But the convent’s most famous dessert—a cassata cake—is what really intrigues Claudia.

Everyone who samples the cake agrees it is like none other they’ve tasted. Yet no one can figure out what makes the cassata so incredibly delicious. Though Sorella Agata insists there is no secret ingredient, Claudia is determined to learn the truth behind the mysterious cake. As she samples each delectable treat—marzipan fruit, rich cream puffs, and decadent cakes—Sorella Agata relates the pastry shop’s history and tells of the young woman, Rosalia, who inspired her.

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I had picked up the book thinking it to be a romance novel and had expected it to be a light forgettable read, one similar to the ones I had taken to reading in last few years. And, at first, it had seemed like that – a light, frothy read, exactly the kind I prefer to keep myself from getting too involved.But this is no froth at the top of the coffee mug. It may have started off on a sweet note but then whisked me off on a ‘death-defying’ roller-coaster ride of hopes, tears, laughter, loss and survival. It pulled me in so hard that by the time I realized this was no airy froth, it was already too late.

Without giving away any spoilers, let me just say Rosalia’s Bittersweet Pastry Shop is the gripping tale of love, pain, struggles and suffering, and overcoming all obstacles to be a better version of your own self. Rosalia’s undying spirit to survive will not just inspire you but also teach a lesson or two about choices, decisions, and most of how to live with what hand life deals you. The story is frequently told in flashbacks of an Italy of 1950’s and the switch from the past to present day is smooth and well-marked. While reading, one doesn’t lose sense of what’s happening when.

For many, many years my favourite book has been ‘If Tomorrow Comes’. Although Rosalia doesn’t topple that book straightaway to claim the spot for itself, it does come dangerously close. This isn’t recommended for those looking for a light or a quick read, as this one will touch you deep and rip your heart out. (Parts of the story actually made me cry so hard I had to take a break from reading.)

A must read for those who like to read meaty, impactful stories with women-centric characters. Also, a bonus surprise feature is included at the end of the book – recipes of all the exotic Italian delicacies prepared by Rosalia. A must read for all cooking/baking aficionados who would want to try their hand at baking these goodies. Please remember to send me some.

The book is yet to be published and you can pre-order it here.

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