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The Telling Room Audiobook

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

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, July 2013 - I consider myself a foodie, but never have I found myself so emotionally invested in any food, let alone a piece of cheese. Michael Paterniti’s sophisticated prose awakened my taste buds and transported me to a remote, other-worldly village in Spain where I came to crave Páramo de Guzmán, arguably the world’s greatest (and most expensive) piece of cheese. The Telling Room, however, ignited within me much more than a simple food craving. Paterniti’s expertly woven narrative, with detailed descriptions of both people and land, invoked within me nostalgia for a simpler time. At the center of Paterniti’s memoir is Ambrosio,the passionate Spanish cheesemaker, betrayed by his best friend, living with revenge in his heart in a land where grudges last a lifetime. As Paterniti gets implicated in Ambrosio’s tale, so does the listener, and the journey is every bit as satisfying as an excellent piece of cheese. I was fortunate enough to read an advanced copy of this book, and it’s such a delight to now listen to it in audio with L.J. Ganser as narrator. —Katie, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction, 2014

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, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and 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 also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

©2013 Michael Paterniti (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (190 )
5 star
 (39)
4 star
 (54)
3 star
 (61)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.5 (167 )
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Story
3.7 (165 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (16)
Performance
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  •  
    Anthro Prof 11-20-16
    Anthro Prof 11-20-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Overly long and meandering."
    Would you try another book from Michael Paterniti and/or L.J. Ganser?

    Probably not


    If you’ve listened to books by Michael Paterniti before, how does this one compare?

    n/a


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Mostly OK narrator, but he consistently butchered the pronunciation of several Spanish words. That was a serious problem throughout and could have been corrected since the words were fairly common and not difficult.


    Was The Telling Room worth the listening time?

    Moderately so.


    Any additional comments?

    The story line of Ambrosio and the Spanish village is reasonably interesting, although the angle of an overworked American discovering a link to a simpler time through Ambrosio is a bit simplistic. A bigger problem is the meandering nature of the digressions, including too many details about the author's own writing of the book. That part is frankly much less interesting and the book would have been better at about 2/3 of its present length. At times the writing style is too self consciously clever and that detracts from the overall flow. The message that each person's own story constitutes a unique distortion of reality is not surprising and a bit predictable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyrajoy Portland 10-13-16
    Kyrajoy Portland 10-13-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not a good audio book"

    I read the first half of this book and then switched over to the audio book so I could finish in time for my book club. This is not the right kind of book for an audio book because there are too many footnotes. When reading it to myself I could make sense on the rants and tangents the author goes on, but in audio form it felt all over the place and ruined the flow of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy L. Muck 07-26-15 Member Since 2016

    trcyknny7

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "Ugh"

    Not worth the credit. Great narration of a long circuitous pointless story that has no discernible plot line

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary 05-23-15
    mary 05-23-15 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    55
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wordy"

    A story that could have been told in 1/3 of the words but over written to fulfill a book contract.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Coastal North Carolina 01-27-15
    Amazon Customer Coastal North Carolina 01-27-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    14
    11
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    Story
    "Digressions on top of digressions on top of...."

    I thought this book would never end! The author was very unfocused and rambled on and on. His digressions were endless. For example, while telling of the cheesemaker and how he ended up driving a truck, he somehow got onto the history of Pringles potato chips, which was more then I ever wanted to know, on to some German man, etc. Wait, wasn't this a book about a cheese? He constantly deviated into his tales of woe writing the book and communications from his agent and publisher and excuses as to why he hadn't been able to finish the book. To make it even worse, he was totally unable to maintain a professional distance from his subject. OK, the book did contain some interesting historical information, but it was lost in all the digressions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia Britten California 12-02-14
    Sylvia Britten California 12-02-14 Member Since 2017

    sylvana

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too slow"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Too slow and after eight hours and I wanted to die. I'm sorry I just could not finish this book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Michael Paterniti again?

    Yes


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I don't think it was a narrator I think it was the story


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth 09-16-14
    Ruth 09-16-14 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    55
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    39
    26
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    FOLLOWING
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    Performance
    Story
    "Starts out great but loses it along the way"

    I really wanted to love this book. Loyalty, family, history, cheese. Fantastic, right?

    Unfortunately, the author gets hopelessly bogged down in his story, and this book (which is WAAAY too long), turns into a book about an author getting bogged down by a book he can't finish writing.

    When "the end" finally came, I really had no idea why, and found myself saying, "Really?"

    I've said the book is too long, and I mean that. Much of the repeated descriptions of the towns and the land and the (extensive) history of Spain seemed like filler, or maybe something to keep the author's mind working while he tried to figure out what his content should be.

    I don't NOT recommend this book, but I don't really recommend it either. The story of the cheese is pretty compelling. I'm just not sure it's worth listening this many hours to get it.

    A word on the performance: L.J. Ganser read with enthusiasm, but his over-enunciation of every single word (not just the Spanish) was grating and incredibly distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chariety Rifle, CO, United States 03-10-14
    Chariety Rifle, CO, United States 03-10-14 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring"
    Would you try another book from Michael Paterniti and/or L.J. Ganser?

    No, found the style of writing very tiresome.


    Has The Telling Room turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Not at all.


    Would you be willing to try another one of L.J. Ganser’s performances?

    possible, if the story is better written


    Any additional comments?

    One of the most boring books I have ever purchased at aubible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian 02-15-14
    Ian 02-15-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good book, but the ending is extremely week"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The book is interesting, and its most endearing feature is the fun and entertaining anecdotes. But the entire theme of the second half is him wrestling with the fact that he didn't know how to end it. The ending is weak, even with him transparently discussing it and sharing with the reader his angst.All in all, I would recommend it as an easy read, but don't get your hopes up for a strong finish.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Michael Paterniti? Why or why not?

    I think so, depends on the subject.


    What about L.J. Ganser’s performance did you like?

    The performance was great, very easy and entertaining to listen to.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cynthia Sebastopol, CA, United States 10-13-13
    cynthia Sebastopol, CA, United States 10-13-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    108
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I want to throw my iPhone at the narrator"

    I only made it halfway. The story is moderately engrossing. The author's descriptions and characters paint a vivid picture, and I find myself wanting to know what happens next, but i can't bring myself to listen any more. The narrator's overconfident, Italianate, mispronunciation of every Spanish word in the book, and there are a lot of them, is completely ruining it for me. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. I want my credit back!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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