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Novel set in the Dolomites, Northern Italy

22nd October 2016

The Ice-Cream Makers by Ernest Van der Kwast, novel set in the Dolomites, Northern Italy.

A delightful book combining village life in Northern Italy and ice cream. What’s not to like?

novel set in the dolomites

This is the story of one Italian family, bedded in the mores and traditions of the Dolomites, who create wonderful recipes for commercial ice cream.

Way back when, in the Autumn/Winter time the menfolk would set out on foot from Venas Di Cadore (near Cortina d’Ampezzo) to walk to Vienna (imagine! That’s well over 500km and easily a three week walk away) to sell locally collected Italian chestnuts. It was in the Austrian capital that an ice cream machine was spotted and Giuseppe Talamini was soon lugging the equipment back to his home village. It took a while to create and master the recipes but he persevered. Ice had to be collected from the glaciers and transported back to the village, dripping as it melted, to feed the rotating ice-cream drum. Giuseppe experimented with mouth-watering flavours, honed the balance of ingredients  and soon he had the local populace asking for more. A family business was successfully established!

Through the generations the Talamini family set up their Summer shop in Rotterdam and now the current generation is due to take over the concern. Luca soon gets stuck in but brother Giovanni has his heart set elsewhere, a literary career focussed on poetry beckons. For him “a life without poetry was a life less lived”.

This is as much as story about ice cream as about family and brotherly love, splintered by internecine upset. Both brothers set their eye on Sophia, but it is Luca with whom she makes her life. Theirs, however, is a troubled marriage. The pressure of bearing a child mounts, yet the years pass, no child appears and soon Sophia is sinking into depression. How can the brothers reconcile, how can the tradition of ice cream making continue in the family…???

If you are after a sensory and emotional journey with the odd scoop of lemon sage or orange or vanilla or cherry ice cream to help you on your way, then do choose this book. It occasionally meanders off course, but soon comes back to a being a satisfying and interesting read. All credit to the translator Laura Vroomen.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

You can follow Ernest on Twitter.

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