This book is as opulent and sensuous as the title suggests. Although the characters and narrative go through long stretches of poverty, war, and deprivation, everyone is so hungry for beauty and deliciousness and romance that they find it, even if they have to root it out of the earth. So the novel is immensely satisfying to read in some respects - the description of food and meals is glorious! - but frustrating in another, as none of the characters exhibit the same sensitivity and mastery when it comes to love and friendship. Lovers and spouses are forever calling each other by names the other does not like, spending years apart, sending useless presents and withholding much-desired demonstrations of affection. It's realistic, I suppose, but a little discouraging.