Updated: May 20, 2022
A lot of first-rate research and first-rate writing have gone into this book.
First, for the delights. Various flavors of coffee are delightful, and Anthony gives them justice.
And there are various styles of writing. And Anthony gives us that:
In chapter two is a (wonderfully) Dickensian picture of traveling across the London of The Big Stink. In the next several chapters comes a delightful picture of young Oscar Wilde with all his brilliant epigrams and repartee. Then come the Victorian letters from Africa for which Anthony credits other Victorian authors -- but whom he imitates superbly. Then the kind of Limerickian-Kiplingian doggerel of children's poems. Then a superb description of the crossing of the desert. Then several chapters of beautiful erotic writing.
It's a kind of encyclopedia of styles. Well done, Anthony.
Anyone steeped in historical writing of the era will of course scream out early on, oh, that's Rimbaud! Or, yes, that's the auction of Dame Florence Baker! And so on. But that's a purely antiquarian pleasure.
Plus, there is a very insightful discussion of the global coffee business; of the British suffragette movement; of the fin-de-siecle hysteria treatments.
It is a very well-wrought book, Anthony. Not quite Lampedusa, but not many cuts below.
Keep up the good work. You gave me five wonderful evenings.
Anthony Capella, The Various Flavors of Coffee