Cinnamon and Gunpowder

A Novel

Eli Brown

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.
     To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.
     But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.
     Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food.

An NPR Best Book of 2013

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In which I am kidnapped by pirates
Wednesday, August 18, 1819
This body is not brave. Bespeckled with blood, surrounded by enemies, and bound on a dark course whose ultimate destination I cannot fathom—I am not brave.
The nub of a candle casts quaking light on my damp chamber. I have been afforded a quill and a logbook only after insisting that measurement and notation are crucial to the task before me.
I have no intention of cooperating for long; indeed, I hope to have a plan of escape soon.

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Eli Brown introduces Cinnamon and Gunpowder

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Praise for Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Food porn and rip-roaring pirate adventure are two great tastes that taste great together in Eli Brown’s rollicking Cinnamon and Gunpowder.” —Petra Mayer,

“In the meantime, an unlikely respect blossoms between captive and captain. Quirky characters combined with the adventure of the high seas make for a novel unlike any other you've read.” —BookPage

“[An] early 19th-century tale of culinary seduction and swashbuckling antics, featuring characters who evoke the desperate ingenuity of Scheherazade and the hell-bent ruthlessness of Ahab . . . Brown explores the mysteries of flavor with prose that any word-savoring foodie will delight in . . . The story, the characters, and the ingenious battle scenes are far too colorful for moral dilemmas, which are made irrelevant when Mabbot is revealed as something of a humanitarian out to reset the wrongs of British imperialism.” —Publishers Weekly

“Brown concocts a clever tale in which history, ethics, action, and romance blend harmoniously. Tantalizing descriptions of the smells and flavors of the dishes Wedgwood creates may send readers running to their spice cabinets in search of the blends he exalts in, even as they are entranced by Brown’s delectable tale.” —Amber Peckham, Booklist

Cinnamon and Gunpowder reads like Joss Whedon and Patrick O’Brian sailed to Copenhagen together and, after surviving a ninja attack and firefight at sea, fell in love over a seven-course meal at Noma.” —Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia

"Both sizzling and swashbuckling.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder [is] a most unusual sophomore effort featuring a pirate queen and a kidnapped chef. Think Babette’s Feast meets Pirates of the Caribbean!” —Wilda Williams, Library Journal

Praise for The Great Days

“Accomplished and enormously powerful.” The Philadelphia Inquirer

“With lyrical, confident prose, Brown makes August’s dark journey a harrowing, convincing look into the heart of cult life that should linger with readers.” —Publishers Weekly

In the Press

The Rumpus Interview With Eli Brown - The

- The Rumpus

Book Review: 'Cinnamon And Gunpowder,' By Eli Brown : NPR
Food porn and pirate adventure are two great tastes that taste great together in Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder. When a pirate kidnaps a chef to serve her own gustatory pleasures, his creativity is taxed as he prepares feasts — like a Regency-era Iron Chef — using only shipboard supplies.

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Why Pickling Can’t Solve Everything
In Cinnamon and Gunpowder, the narrator, chef Owen Wedgwood, is kidnapped by a pirate and forced to cook for her on her ship. Despite the paucity of ingredients, his meals must delight her or she’ll kill him.
- FSG's Work in Progress

"Cinnamon and Gun Powder," by Eli Brown - Author Talk - CBS News
Brown takes us back to 1819 where renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot Read more by Jeff Glor on CBS News' Author Talk.

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Eli Brown

Eli Brown lives on an experimental urban farm in Alameda, California. His writing has appeared in The Cortland Review and Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader. His first novel, The Great Days, won the Fabri Literary Prize.

Eli Brown

Melissa Mechaud
Eli Brown


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Available Formats and Book Details

Cinnamon and Gunpowder
A Novel
Eli Brown


NPR Best Book of the Year, California Book Awards Master List

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
June 2013
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466836976
ISBN10: 1466836970
336 pages

Unabridged Digital Audio

Unabridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
June 2013
Unabridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781427235206
ISBN10: 1427235201
Audio Run Time: 11:50


Farrar, Straus and Giroux
June 2013
ISBN: 9780374123666
ISBN10: 0374123667
6 x 9 inches, 336 pages

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250050182
ISBN10: 1250050189
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 336 pages

From The Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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