Read The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie Online


A young Spaniard sets off for South America in 1518 with Cortes and the Conquistadors, propelled by his love's declaration that she will not marry until he returns with a special treasure -- a symbol of their love -- that no man or woman has ever before received. But during his travels he falls in love with Ignacia, a native woman who introduces him to the secrets of the mA young Spaniard sets off for South America in 1518 with Cortes and the Conquistadors, propelled by his love's declaration that she will not marry until he returns with a special treasure -- a symbol of their love -- that no man or woman has ever before received. But during his travels he falls in love with Ignacia, a native woman who introduces him to the secrets of the most delicious drink he has ever tasted: chocolate. Their passionate affair is cut short by the chaotic conquest of Mexico.So begins this charming and adventurous story about the magical substance we now know as chocolate, and of the passions and obsessions it has inspired from its earliest days. Our hero later discovers that his lover had secretly added the elixir to life to his chocolate drink. This allows him to travel through history: to Paris during the time of the Revolution, to Vienna in the nineteenth century, to late Victorian England, and to Hershey Pennsylvania -- accompanied all the while by his trusty greyhound, Pedro. unable to die, he searches to recapture the magic of Ignacia's chocolate -- and to learn to love life just as fully. Playful and intelligent, this is a romantic story about love and loss inspired by a very enchanting substance....

Title : The Discovery of Chocolate
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060184810
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Discovery of Chocolate Reviews

  • Cindy
    2019-03-12 01:36

    I really loved this satisfying novel that is a bit of a fantasy/fairy tale.There were several passages that gave me pause for contemplation. Pg. 133 is on having children.Pg. 137 a character knows when a cake is ready to come out of the ovenby it's smell. In real life I have observed my friend Ann do this when she bakes pies. She never uses a timer!Pg. 211 ". . .this life which seems so long is, in fact, lived in an instant, and that we must one day be judged: not so much by a divine figure as by the far more frightening prospect of our own, elderly selves."I think my book club would enjoy this one.

  • Marsha
    2019-03-15 20:08

    Mr. Runcie captures all the enchantment and excitement of discovery. In his capable hands, love, passion and the very scent of chocolate seem to peel from the page. This is a sublime book, entwining the history of the Conquistadors and a magical journey to reclaim lost love…all wound up with the magic that is chocolate. A New World delicacy found by Old World travelers, chocolate has never seemed more seductive, more delicious, more transforming than it does here in this lyrical tale of Diego de Godoy’s dangerous voyage to bring back a treasure for a spoiled, aristocratic beauty and the native woman who captures his heart instead.

  • GiGi
    2019-02-25 03:22

    The premise of this book and the synopsis of the plot was a good idea. The book itself however flew through history and in my opinion, went too fast. I wish the author was more descriptive about things other than Chocolate: what Diego was thinking, feeling, seeing, rather than just being descriptive about how many different ways he prepared chocolate.

  • Eileen
    2019-03-05 03:16

    A bit silly - the plot had a lot of potential but it seemed like it was written for an audience with a very simply reading comprehension level.

  • Karen
    2019-03-11 03:24

    I can't abide books where the dog dies!!!

  • Katie
    2019-03-16 23:26

    This book had an interesting premise but sadly never quite delivered in the writing. A Spanish conquistador falls in love with a Mexican girl, but circumstances drive them apart. When he leaves, she gives him a drink of enchanted chocolate which extends his life and slows his aging to allow him to return to her at a time when they can be together. Consequently, he wanders through time with Pedro, his greyhound companion, in search of chocolate and love. However, far more time and attention is given to the chocolate in this book. The descriptions of chocolate making, baking, experimenting and eating are rich and sensuous and instantly made me hungry. In fact, the food writing is what makes this book interesting to read.The remainder of the plot does not fare so well. The time travel element, surely an essential part of the plot, was made to seem almost incidental and there was no attempt to make it either logical or consistent. That the main character did not react with any surprise or disorientation to the completely unpredictable passage of time, and so it comes across as a lack of development on the part of the author rather than a deliberate device. The characters were mostly undeveloped, but this bothered me less than I expected as their appearances in the narrative were so fleeting. I did enjoy Diego's brushes with real historical figures, painfully contrived as they were, but they seemed an incidental rather than integral part of the story. Not enough was made of them, often they were unrelated to either love or chocolate, and so they did not really fit into the rest of the narrative. Ultimately, I suppose it's difficult to write an interesting account of a man who very rapidly finds his own life uninteresting and repetitive.

  • Aunty Janet
    2019-03-21 02:25

    I found this a rich and intriguing book covering continents and centuries. Love, passion, and best of all, chocolate!''In 1518 the 20-year-old Diego leaves Seville bound for Mexico where he joins Cortes's conquistadors and falls in love with the beautiful Ignacia. When Diego is ordered back to Spain, Ignacia gives him a parting gift: a chocolate drink, the elixir of life, and the promise that "If you are alive, then I am alive. Never cease in your search for me." But, returning to Mexico, he finds only her grave and so begins his wanderings, sometimes dictated by the forces of history, sometimes by his own whims. Through "an eternity of travel", he and Pedro reach Chiapas, the city of Ignacia's birth, where he discovers that time has slipped by a century. Full of incident made more piquant by the introduction of significant figures along the way, Diego soon finds himself locked in the Bastille. It's 1788 and he swaps chocolate recipes with the Marquis de Sade. Then on to Vienna to create sachertorte. Fervent with questions, yet filled with despair about life's meaning, he begins his weekly visits to Freud. And all the while, his droll scrapes punctuate his slightly overdone gloom. On board ship to America, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas solace him with talk of love and food. The early 1900s find him once more in Mexico, a man old in wisdom, but still virile in his ways.''

  • Ruth
    2019-03-18 03:17

    A compelling read. I started off really enjoying it. Then I thought it ought to be written at a slower pace rather than racing through the centuries. Then I began to think there should be less sex and more chocolate. I enjoyed the section with Freud and their philosophizing on life, death and happiness. Overall, I did enjoy the book, some parts were beautifully written and it is very qotable. "The principal advantage of chocolate is that it cannot be taken at speed. It asks you to take time, to consider, to pause." "I agree," I replied. "It is best enjoyed in silence..."

  • Megan
    2019-03-01 02:36

    I liked this one. I didn't OMG LOVE it, but it was an engaging read. Sometimes a little frustrating. I mean, I get it, he's kind of at sixes and sevens with this whole slow-to-age-and-die thing, but he's so selfish and woe-is-me for so long. I get why (view spoiler)[Ignacia's a little pissed when he finally finds her (hide spoiler)].But overall, a fun read. Warning: might make you hungry.

  • Kay
    2019-03-01 22:19

    I had such high hopes for the book but in the end you just get a very silly love story (another one) when it involves chocolate and adventure you could do so many things but no.... so sad.

  • Sephie
    2019-02-21 03:11

    Unexpectedly great read - Lovely undemanding, time-travelling tale of lost love, chocolate and a dog called Pedro. A really delicious read.

  • Debra
    2019-02-20 03:11

    Although it is true that I have been considered lunatic on many occasions in the last five hundred years, it must be stated, that the very beginning of this sad and extraordinary tale, that I have been most grievously misunderstood. The elixir of life was drunk in all innocence and my dog had nothing to do with it.---The Discovery of Chocolate by James RuncieSuch begins The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie, a historical fiction piece that also includes a bit of sci-fi time travel, true undying love, and of course, chocolate.The Discovery of Chocolate is the February/March selection for Cook the Books Cook the Books. The author weaves his inventive tale around Diego de Godoy, a young Spaniard that finds himself attached as the notary to Cortés as he begins his exploration and plunder of the New World. Diego has embarked on this journey to impress a young Spanish woman who is waiting for him to return with something new and worthy of her beauty and love, some treasure from the New World.Of course, Diego's discovered treasure is chocolate but he also finds true love with Ignacia, a native woman. This meeting leads him on his five hundred year journey.Runcie's premise is clever and I started out loving the book. The author began losing me a bit after the "invention of Sachertorte." Then there was the tragic and ludicrous invention of the Hershey Kiss.Really?And the people he encounters along the way? Besides Cortés, he meets the following (some a who's who of the chocolate industry): Marquis de SadeMonsieur Debauve (of Debauve and Gallais, the French Royally Appointed Chocolatier)Franz Sacher, an Austrian confectionnerSigmund FreudGustav KlimtAnton Bruckner (I think.  I couldn't pin point who the composer was that he and Claudia heard at the concert at St. Stephen's.)Mr. Fry of J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd.  (a British chocolate company)Milton S. HersheyGertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas I was anticipating that Pablo Escobar might make an appearance at the end of the book when he finds himself in a Mexican opium operation.I loved the first part of the book, was mildly amused during his time in France, became annoyed with the insipid conversations in Vienna (in fact, the dialogue reminded me of a boring French film), didn't really see the point of his time in England, and thought the Hershey Kiss wrap up was beyond absurd. But, then Runcie throws in Stein and Toklas and I had to wonder if he was actually writing a farce."A mousse is a mousse is a mousse."

  • Amy
    2019-03-02 00:13

    This book would have been much better off as a novella featuring the love story between Diego and Ignacia. The first quarter and the last tenth of the book were the only parts that were worth reading. The part inbetween were mind numbingly boring and nonsensical.The main problem was this: the author wanted an immortal character and therefore introduced time travel, immortality and extremely slow aging (his pulse beats at 1/10 the speed of a normal person so he ages super slowly or something). I'm a huge science fiction fan, so I have no problem with any of these theories except that the cannot co-exist in the same story. Either he's immortal or he ages slowly. Either he lives long because of slow aging or he jumps through time of space. It can't be all of them! This is especially problematic since the time travel element was introduced early in the story, but the reason for the apparent time travel was never addressed (was it a time turner like Harry Potter? Stones like Outlander? A wardrobe like Narnia? A black hole like every sci-fi movie ever? WHAT WAS IT?!?) Then time travel is abandoned and slow aging is introduced (and that's fine too - all the vampire/werewolf/fearie stories prepare the reader for immortality)- it simply doesn't make sense to switch from one to the other and it irked me for the rest of the story.Plus the characters were rather boring and the bedroom scenes were just icky - I felt like I needed a shower afterward. Just gross.I feel like I'm being generous giving this book two stars. Since the story was intriguing again in the end, it partially redeemed itself enough to give two stars.

  • Camilla
    2019-02-26 02:25

    I would actually give this 2.5 stars. It was a little more than okay, but I can't say I'm wholly in the 'like it' camp either. I like a good story with time travel and fantastical elements, but this was not a satisfying read. It started off well, then descended into silliness as Diego encounters the Marquis de Sade, the inventors of the Sacher Torte, works for Hershey's, and comes full circle with Ignacia. It's a fanciful narrative about one man's history with chocolate wrapped around a contrived love story with some bizarre twists of fate. I didn't hate it, but I wouldn't read it again. And I would only recommend it with massive caveats.

  • Plum-crazy
    2019-02-20 22:36

    I enjoyed this book which is both sad & humorous. Pedro seems doomed to roam the world looking for his true love while somehow managing to become involved in creating some of the worlds most famous chocolate recipes. A delightful story with a poignant but fitting ending & one that would surely be great as a film.

  • Jan Chadbourne
    2019-02-27 22:15

    I was hoping for more depth. A little too Forrest Gump for my taste.

  • John
    2019-03-08 00:34

    The Discovery of Chocolate (2001) by James Runcie Diego de Godoy is one of the lesser lights of Cortez's expedition to the New World. There, amid the treachery and carnage, he discovers chocolate and the love of its supreme artisan, a woman he calls Ignacia. After a passionate retreat together, filled with chocolate- and love-making, they are separated by war -- but not before she tricks him into drinking an elixir of life. It's an elixir whose effects are stranger than merely conveying immortality, in fact, because his life seems thereafter to incorporate sudden slippages between one era and another, with intervening periods being spent at the same rate as the mortals with him he mingles. Needless to say, his intervals of ordinary history have a chocolatey theme, and he works with such luminaries of chocolate's tradition as Fry (in the UK) and Hershey (in the US; his opinion of Hershey's chocolate is much the same as mine, and in the book you'll find the technological reason for the judgement). This is all pretty jolly, with plenty of entertaining sex and lashings of chocolatey lore. Since I'm not particularly a chocolate fiend, I know that some of the book's attractions must have gone right past me; but it was an amiable read all the same.

  • Dormouse
    2019-03-09 20:15

    Oh hi, talk of important conquistadors and unimportant Mexicans there for the benefit of the white protagonist. Thing that annoyed me:The market scenes, and some other descriptions of things in Mexico City in 1518 -1519 threw me out of the story. The market is full of meat - turkeys and chickens and also quail. The quail confused me, a little. I didn't know there was quail in Mexico.And fruit, including oranges and lemons and cherries. Because Tenochtitlan had trade with China somehow? That would explain the silk in the palace, too. Maybe I just don't know any agricultural history.The other thing was that the detailed lists of things were out-of-character for a person who says he had no experience of cooking - I mean, recognising all the meat, fruit and vegetables and different spices. Without needing to ask or being surprised by the weird new stuff. Only chocolate is new and special. Also! There are metal swords in the market, to buy. in Tenochtitlan in 1519-ish. ***Then out protagonist travels back to Europe and back to Mexico again, and meets famous people in wish-fullfilmenty fashion.It's full of chocolate descriptions, don't read this when you're hungry. It's also got white man are important.

  • Judy King
    2019-03-20 21:29

    This quick read is to the genre of Historical Fiction what the fun cozies are to Mystery and Romance is to Fiction. It was longer on Fantasy than it was factual information, and even some of the facts were way off. An example? According to the book, Mole poblano was "invented" by an indigenous woman in the early 1500s soon after the arrival of Cortez intead of the creation of the nuns in one of the convents in the city of Puebla 300 years later. The narrator reports seeing lemons and oranges in a market soon after the arrival of the Spanish -- history reports that citrus fruits were one of the plants carried to the new world by the spanish -- they were unknown in Mexico. Some of the Mexican historical events are a bit skewed -- which makes me wonder about the historical accuracy of other events, including the French revolution, et al. Bottom line, it's a fun read that requires a bit of belief in fantasy -- does chocolate really allow men and dogs to never age -- and to live for hundreds of years? Probably not -- or else we should start eating more chocolate!

  • Clare O'Beara
    2019-02-19 21:20

    This book started off well but I felt dropped as it went on. However there are interesting characters and settings.A young Spaniard is taking part in the conquest of the Americas when he falls in love with a local girl. She knows mysteries of the exotic chocolate drink and other spices, and when battle breaks out around them they both sip an esoteric mix, and the small Spanish greyhound Pedro licks the bowl. Somehow this concoction causes time travel after the couple are parted. The man and dog travel through time following the path of chocolate to new countries or in new forms such as firm sweets. Some well-known characters appear, from chocolatiers to the Marquis de Sade. Eventually of course we are reading to see if the Spaniard and his lady will ever meet again and how long a loyal dog can stay with his master. This is an enjoyable and interesting read which is full of detail - and chocolate - and is not intended to be taken too seriously.

  • Ape
    2019-03-17 02:34

    Chocolate - one of my favourite subjects =) And you get so hungry reading this book; just a warning that you will get chocolate cravings.It's a latin fairystory driven by chocolate really. Diego, Spanish lad off to seek his fortune in the 1500s, joins the conquisterdors and sails over to Mexico. Here he meets the love of his life, who also introduces him to chocolate which becomes a bit of an obsession. After fighting between the Spanish and the Mexicans, they are seperated. He returns to Mexico to try and find her a couple of years later, but finds her grave. He is forced to live with his grief for centuries, as before they seperated she had given him a magical chocolate drink, so that he lives for over 500 years. And on his chocolate adventures over the centuries, he gets to meet some interesting historical characters.My 2006 bookcrossing journal.

  • Deborah Cater
    2019-03-03 03:28

    Some of the 'facts' were a little out of kilter with the actual history of places but thankfully I am one who can ignore those and just take a story for what it is...a story.Travelling through time Diego and his dog discover and experiment with chocolate. From Cortez's expedition to Mexico and meeting with Montezuma, through the French revolution, creating Sacher torte and into the twentieth century this is a light-touch tour of history and the history of chocolate with some love thrown in.The novel is not going to test anyone's vocabulary or make them think overly but it is a pleasant read. Ideal for the beach or time spent at airports and onboard a plane (as I did).

  • Alan Pottinger
    2019-03-14 02:36

    This was certainly a beautifully imagined story drifting like a dream in which coincidences and tenuous links can be forgiven. Not my favourite read but neither was it wasted and I'm glad I reached the end as it was poignantly charming. As fir time travel don't we all actually experience it? isn't that what life is all about, ok it doesn't last hundreds of years like the character in this book but life does allow is to experience an ever changing world and new people who in turn shape our outlooks, knowledge and understanding of who we are. And chocolate,apart from dreadful Hershey bar stuff, is a bonus!

  • Marilyn Saul
    2019-03-14 22:14

    What a wonderful read! But then, I am a fan of books that demand the reader suspend their notions of reality, as does G. Garcia Marquez in "One Hundred Years....". "Discovery" is a love story laced with chocolate: Diego meets Ignacia when conquering Mexico City with Cortez, loses her in the mad rush, and spends the next 400+ years trying to survive without her. There are philosophical questions, psychological questions, and, inevitably, the origin of the Hershey's Kiss. If you are looking for temporal or historic accuracy, don't stop here. But if you like to be transported, keep this book on your shelf - you may want to revisit it!

  • Eileen
    2019-03-15 23:29

    2.5 stars / out of 5A light quick read, good for taking on a trip or for reading on a plane. Certain descriptions of chocolates made my mouth water and crave some smooth decadent chocolate! Some of the musings of the main character, Diego de Godoy, especially regarding his reflections on life and love were somewhat trite and seemed more like passing fancies even though they resulted in life changing events. There was even an encounter with the Marquis de Sade which was a bit disturbing with his attempts with Pierre the dog! Didnt expect much. Worth the $4.99 I paid for the hardcover. --eps, 06/29/02

  • Karen
    2019-02-28 01:24

    One of those charming stories where the protagonist finds himself at assorted different pivotal points in history. There are lots of delightful descriptions about chocolate (of course) and some general philosophizing about life (which comes off as a bit pretentious). As a female, I found myself irked by how much trouble the protagonist causes himself by not listening to his girlfriends. In the novel, it's supposed to be a fatal flaw, but I found myself to be very irritated instead.Sweet, but not mind-blowing novel.

  • Ana Paula
    2019-03-22 02:28

    Há uma coisa que este livro não é: maçador.De facto, é pouco cuidado e a história acaba por ser um pouco louca, ainda que a ideia de ler sobre alguém que viva mais de 400 anos seja... apelativa... Mas a sua história acaba por ser mais pequena do que o mais comum dos mortais. Exceptuando o ter assistido a algumas inovações como o chocolate e a Sachertorte...O editor também não fez um bom trabalho e esta edição contém algo que me perturba imenso: erros de sintaxe, nitidamente de uma revisão descuidada.

  • Shinelle
    2019-03-05 04:19

    The premise sounds lovely, and the set-up is well done. You want to delve into this novel the way you would delve into chocolate molten lava cake. But telling the tale of a society's destruction from the perspective of the conquistador's sidekick does not work as well as the author intended. He abandons the idea of time travel for most of the novel, and focuses on the protagonist's failed love life. Brushes with real history, a la Forrest Gump, start to seem contrived, and ultimately the mixture of chocolate, lost love, lost time and world history feels a bit stale.

  • Diane Heath
    2019-02-24 20:17

    This was a different type of story. A young boy joins Cortes to go to Mexico in search of a treasure never previously known in order to win the hand of a young woman. He meets a young Aztec girl who gives him a drink of chocolate and the elixir of life. The remainder of the book is a recap of his various adventures in various cities learning the art and history of chocolate from the cacao bean as currency in the Aztec world down to the Hershey kiss.

  • Ada Holloway
    2019-03-22 21:30

    I almost put this book down and didn't read it because of the implausible premise that almost turned to science fiction, but the historical fiction trumped the implausibility. It was interesting, although a bit far fetched. I guess it was not as good as I wanted it to be, but then I didn't put it down and I did enjoy it. Light reading, entertaining, but certainly not the depth the author could have gone to.