The Chef's Apprentice

A Novel

The Chef's Apprentice

In a world of violence and intrigue, who guards the truth?

It is 1498, dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors about an ancient book believed to hold the secrets of power—alchemy, love, and even immortality. Some will stop at nothing to find it; others will die to protect it. As intrigue grips Her Most Serene Republic, Luciano, a light-fingered, streetwise orphan, gets caught up in the madness. The doge’s enigmatic chef takes him into the palace kitchen as an apprentice, where he is initiated into the chef’s deliciously mysterious world—itself alive with dangerous secrets. After Luciano witnesses an inexplicable murder, he embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. What he discovers will test his loyalty, show him the dark side of men’s souls, and threaten his love for an audacious convent girl. But it will also swing open the shutters of his mind, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.

A luminous and seductive novel, The Chef ’s Apprentice is, at its heart, a high-spirited tribute to the fruits of knowledge and the extraordinary power of those who hold its key.
  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451626292 | 
  • February 2011
List Price $24.99
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Get to Know Author Elle Newmark

Elle Newmark discusses her book The Book of Unholy Mischief while in Venice.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


“The art of cooking, like the art of living, must be savored for its own sake.”

In late fifteenth century Venice, a twist of fate takes orphaned Luciano from a life on the streets to the doge’s lavish palace. The young urchin catches the eye of the doge’s chef, both for the unusual birthmark on his face and for his daring act of stealing an exotic item, a pomegranate, from a street vendor. Luciano becomes Chef Ferrero’s apprentice and is introduced to a decadent world of culinary arts and palace intrigue.

The Book of Unholy Mischief unfolds against the backdrop of a city both beautiful and sinister, where every whisper is a secret or a lie. Soon everyone in the seaside republic, from paupers to the ruthless members of the ruling Council of Ten, is whispering about the existence of an ancient book of unimaginable power—said to be an alchemist’s dream with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. Headstrong and curious, Luciano soon becom see more

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About the Author

Elle Newmark
Steven Rothfeld

Elle Newmark

Elle Newmark is the acclaimed author of The Book of Unholy Mischief.  She lived and worked in the hills north of San Diego.