Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal,…

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's…

by Michael Paterniti

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2824439,987 (3.49)30



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book could have benefited from a more discerning editor. The first third was fantastic, focused on the history of the fantastic cheese, the appearance and history of the actual Telling Room, and the larger than life characters who embodied them both.

Then, however, the author decided to include a long, painful odyssey of his road to actually completing the writing of the book. The problem with that was he never quite decided whether he was writing a memoir, or someone else's story (namely Ambrosio).

I really believe he needed to focus the story on the wonderful character of Ambrosio in the perfect setting of Guzman, Spain and the cheese that dominated so many lives. While I understand that Paterniti meant to show how much of an impact the entire story had on him, I feel that it backfired and bogged the reader down in, sadly boring, unnecessary detail.
1 vote sangreal | Jan 24, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The story that inspired The Telling Room, and title of the book, are so intriguing. I was drawn to learn more about this wonderful cheese and the human drama that surrounded it. Unfortunately, the book did not satisfy the sense of optimistic anticipation I had when starting it. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of extensive footnotes, and believe that the use of footnotes in The Telling Room hampered my enjoyment of the book. ( )
  nancyjune | Jan 11, 2015 |
This book is filled with magic but isn’t fantasy. It captures time, culture and gives you the meaning of storytelling. Reading this will have you traveling through time, feeling that magic and wanting to hear more. True, this is a story about cheese but as the cover title says, “A tale of love, betrayal, revenge…” all of those descriptions are spot on. Michael Paterniti is very lucky to have met Ambrosio and has to be kismet. If the events of his life didn’t happen exactly the way they did, this beautiful story would have been hidden in Guzman forever.

I’ll admit that the cheese drew me into reading this book. This is one of the signed advanced reading copies I received from Book Expo America 2013. This book/author was the first signing through the door and it’s also the first book I selected to read after lugging home a small suitcase full of books. I finished all 340 something pages in less than a week and felt so grateful at the opportunity to meet this Author (although at the time I had no idea how much I would truly like the book). I wish I could turn back time and ask him so many questions.

But back to the cheese, I’m a cheese snob so I thought this would be the perfect book for someone like me… and it was, but not because of the cheese. Paterniti captures the magic a food can hold, that one taste that can transform the way you look at that particular food each time. The way a food can bring forth a memory, something that was preserved in time from that flavor… THAT is the magic.

The best part of this book was the courage Paterniti and his family had to just give up the modern world for a small time and move to Guzman. Without giving too much away, all I can say is that you’d be surprised how amazing life can be when you truly experience it. At first I didn’t know who I would recommend this book to… (Cheese Lovers? Food Snobs? Frequent Travelers?), after I finished the book it became clear that there is something in this book for everyone. I HIGHLY recommend it.
( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
what a great read! i enjoyed this book so much and loved that, while the story really is about a very special cheese, it's a book about many different things in life - things we all wonder about, and struggle with: belonging, family, friendship, our path in life, our own truths, storytelling, love. some big subjects, to be sure, but paterniti does a great job sussing out the very interesting tale of ambrosio molinos, his traditional family recipe for páramo de guzmán, and his spanish home. but he also lays himself quite bare in linking his own role in the telling of this story. reading this book will probably make you hungry, and may have you questioning your own food choices in life. the importance of real food, slowing down to respect food, and recognizing (having) real connections to what we are eating is a strong undercurrent -- though in no way is it being preached.

the only reason this is not a 5-star read had to do with some instances of repetition that baubled the flow of the read for me slightly. (and i would probably go 4.5-stars, if we could do half-star ratings.)

i have read a bunch of reviews since i finished the read, curious about what others thought of the book. i was surprised to see negative ratings tied to comments about paterniti inserting himself into this book and making it about himself. i was fortunate enough to meet the author last year, and i had a great conversation with him. he could not have been more kind, and he certainly did not present any huge ego or other arrogant-like traits. he was humble and funny. i think with any memoir-ish book (and make no mistake, this is a memoir, along with a biography) ego plays a role. i have complained about this fact in some other books - the 'i have a story to tell' vs. the 'LOOK AT ME!!'. there is a fine line for me as a reader, when i am knee-deep in memoir. but paterniti is not a 'look at me' writer. he was very clear in this book that this is as much about him, and his role as storyteller, as it is about ambrosio and the cheese. so if you are complaining about this aspect of the book, i feel as though you may have missed parts of the read where the subject is addressed head-on. i suspect if everyone who read, or reads, this book had a chance to either meet paterniti, or see him at a reading, their opinion would be swayed. and also that his humour might be more evident during the read.



:) ( )
  Booktrovert | Jul 12, 2014 |
I really wanted to like this book. So very much wanted to like it. He did such a fabulous interview on NPR! And the first hundred pages were utterly gripping! And I highly recommended it to pretty much everyone...

And then I got stuck: I really had to drag to get through the rest of this book. The story of "Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese" is totally over by about page 150. Cut down a bit, it would have made a great article in Vanity Fair. It could have headlined a book of two or three 150-page stories (maybe from some of the travelling he did while procrastinating about writing the book?). But instead, Paterniti tacked on a long, dull account of writing the book, essentially concluding with how his wife and publisher tied him to a chair until something book-length emerged from the printer. Frankly, not worth reading.

Can I highly recommend just part of a book? Those first 150 pages were totally worth it. Read it that far (you'll know exactly where to stop), then put it down. You'll have missed the part where nothing turns out to be totally as it seems, but that's how all great mythic stories go (and that first part is a great mythic story), so you already knew that.

Oh, and about the footnotes? Yep, there's lots of them. A few of the footnotes have footnotes of their own: there's even one spot where the footnotes of the footnotes have footnotes of their own! I thought it was awesome (even took a picture and tweeted it), but it's totally personal taste. ( )
  Heduanna | Jun 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
“The Telling Room” never lives up to its subtitle hype, but that’s as much the hype’s fault as the writer’s. Mr. Paterniti wrings Ambrosio’s histrionics for all they’re worth, then throws in his own infatuation with all things Spanish, tasty and quaint. And he injects himself into Ambrosio’s life with enough humor to offset some of the flagrant artificiality that didn’t belong in a book about the importance of the authentic. “Yes, this was all about cheese,” he writes about the story’s central feud. “And now by resolving it, we could begin on the road to world peace.”
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jul 22, 2013)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385337000, Hardcover)

In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets—usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine.
It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong. . . .
By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon, he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale–like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals and lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, where they made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta.
What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing.
Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while holding a mirror up to the world, alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Advance praise for The Telling Room
“Elegant, strange, funny, and insightful, The Telling Room is a marvelous tale and a joyful read, a trip into a world peopled by some of the most remarkable characters—and, yes, cheese—in memory.”—Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
“The list of writers I would read even if they were to write about a piece of cheese has always been short, but it includes Michael Paterniti. He has proved here that if you love something enough and pay a passionate enough attention to it, the whole world can become present in it. That’s true of both the cheese and the book.”—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“An amazing achievement, The Telling Room is an inspired, masterly epic that expands and refigures the parameters of the storyteller’s art.”—Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
“A gorgeous and impassioned monument to the art and mystery of storytelling, The Telling Room is rich, funny, humane, devastating, and beautiful. It made me want to applaud, it made me want to cry, it made me want to move to Spain. Michael Paterniti is a genius.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:05 -0400)

In the picturesque village of Guzmn, Spain, in a cave on the edge of town, there is a cramped limestone chamber known as "the telling room." This is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets--usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a Spanish cheesemaker as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio's cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong. Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled, relocating his young family to Guzmn in order to chase the truth about this fairy tale-like place. What he ultimately discovers is nothing like the idyllic fable he first imagined. Instead, he's sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
196 wanted2 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.49)
1 1
2 9
2.5 4
3 23
3.5 6
4 21
4.5 5
5 10


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 98,441,145 books! | Top bar: Always visible