The Scandalous Life of Sasha Torte
HarperCollins Publishing Australia
Revenge, redemption … and pastry. The witty new novel from the author of Hotel du Barry, for fans of Jonas Jonasson.
In the winter of 1912 on the wild West Coast of Tasmania, Wolfftown’s most notorious heiress and murderess, Sasha Torte, tells the tale of her own spectacular downfall.
Forsaken by her parents and raised by criminals and reprobates, Sasha becomes a world-famous pastry chef at the tender age of seventeen. Entanglement with the disreputable Dasher brothers leads to love, but also to a dangerous addiction.
Behind bars in Wolfftown’s gaol, Sasha sips premium champagne as she recalls a life of seduction, betrayal, ghosts, opium and an indiscreet quantity of confectionary – and plots her escape.
The Scandalous Life of Sasha Torte: revenge, redemption and pastry, is a novel of dastardly deeds, intrepid protagonists, dark villains, wild gangs, luxurious hotels … and murder.
A captivating/fun/ribald/honest read…and educational 🙂
Open the pages and catch a glimpse of colonial Australia, in particular the Wild West coast of Tasmania to a narrative set in the fictional township of Wolfftown. The reader is privy to the extreme vagaries of the rich and the devastatingly poor – the contrast is extreme. Those familiar with the history of the Australian penal settlements and mores of the time will be aware of the huge role alcohol played in society – indeed it was even deemed currency – actual as payment for labour and social currency – snobbery and elitism abounded.
Thus we have the perfect introduction to a new (to me) description that appeared in this witty narrative – crapulous! What a fantastic word! Now at this point I must admit to you that I read along thinking…hmm…a little of the authors own colloquialism here…however at some stage in my reading of this novel I decided to see if such a word did exist – and to my surprise it does! Crapulous – what a fabulous word!
“Word Origin and History for crapulous
1530s, “sick from too much drinking,” from Latin crapula, from Greek kraipale “hangover, drunken headache, nausea from debauching.” The Romans used it for drunkenness itself. English has used it in both senses. Related: Crapulously; crapulousness.” Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
What a perfect description – concisely and succinctly describes some of the themes covered in this novel – drunkenness, debauchery but …alcohol and addictive behaviours provide both the backdrop and the impetus for so much that happens in this novel – destructive behaviour that time has not changed. Truffle touches on issues of mental health, family violence and all manner of social issues directly related to crapulous and addictive behaviours.
Yet this is not a depressing book – written with wit and humour and with an outlandish cast of fops and conceited, talented and not so talented, corrupt and powerful individuals juxtaposed against a cast of world weary chancers and survivors… and a wonderful wonderful gutsy determined (in everything) talented, liberal, liberated and resourceful female protagonist – this is a riotous read.
At is core it is a mystery – the narrative introduces Sasha – who has been convicted of murder and who fears – like so many do – that she is turning into her mother (p. 11). The hook gleams – we want to know the what, why and how she is guilty of murder…and so the intriguing and entertaining story begins. Sasha is incarcerated and we hear (via the memoir she is writing ) her history, a great device for allowing the reader to travel back in time to the beginning of her story and the prefect way to understand Sasha’s spectacular rise and fall and rise again… but no spoilers here – you must read this yourself.
A little history, a little romance, a lot of crapulous behaviour, sex, alcohol, drugs, murder, cakes, baking and sugar syrup! A delightful read.