Bittersweet Journey: A Modestly Erotic Novel of Love, Longing and Chocolate

Overview

Charlotte falls in love with chocolate, and love, in childhood, when her father gives her Hershey bars in lieu of kisses. At 39, she leaves her husband and makes a pilgrimage to Europe, in search of the perfect chocolate, and the perfect man. Complete with evocative photographs of chocolate, the addresses of the best chocolate makers in the US and Europe, and several quintessential chocolate recipes, Bittersweet Journey is a fable for adults--an exploration of the dark and ...
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Overview

Charlotte falls in love with chocolate, and love, in childhood, when her father gives her Hershey bars in lieu of kisses. At 39, she leaves her husband and makes a pilgrimage to Europe, in search of the perfect chocolate, and the perfect man. Complete with evocative photographs of chocolate, the addresses of the best chocolate makers in the US and Europe, and several quintessential chocolate recipes, Bittersweet Journey is a fable for adults--an exploration of the dark and erotic underside of women's mysterious passion for chocolate, and men.

About the Author

Enid Futterman is also a lyricist and librettist. She is the co-author (with composer Michael Cohen) of I Am Anne Frank, a song-cycle, I Remember, a chamber piece for mezzo-soprano, flute, harp and cello, and Yours, Anne, a musical theatre piece, all based on the diaries of Anne Frank. I Am Anne Frank was performed by Andrea Marcovicci, Stephen Bogardus, and the American Symphony Orchestra at Lincoln Center in October 1996, and is available on CD. I Remember was commissioned for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and received its world premiere there in February 1996, its New York premiere at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall in April 1997, and performances at the Bronfman Festival in Sun Valley in July 1998, and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago in September 1998. It is available on CD from Newport Classics.

As lyricist and book-writer of Portrait of Jennie (music by Howard Marren), Ms. Futterman received the Richard Rodgers Production Award and the Seagram's New Musical Theatre Award. The work has been produced by the New Federal Theater in New York, the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and in Japan. She has also written book and lyrics for An Open Window (music by Sarah Ackerman), which was produced by the Ten Minute Musicals Project in San Francisco. Ms. Futterman lives in New York City and Columbia County.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Enid Futterman's Bittersweet Journey is far from your typical first fiction. Designed by Alexander Isley and sumptuously packaged, the book looks just like a box of expensive chocolates. Using high-quality paper throughout, Bittersweet Journey is also full of the author's color photographs, exotic recipes, and the addresses and phone numbers of the real chocolatiers visited by the book's protagonist.

In this delightfully delicious novel, the powerful forces of obsession and chocolate are explored by Charlotte, a passionate woman who leaves a "successful" marriage to seek out more love, more sex, and more chocolate. "Eating chocolate," Charlotte realizes after cheating on her husband and polishing off a jar of chocolate sauce, "was like having a slut for a best friend. It was a bad influence."

Searching for some sort of satisfaction, Charlotte travels the globe. Her cravings take her from Greenwich Village to the chocolate capitals of the world — Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Zurich, New Hampshire, and even Hawaii. Charlotte continually finds romance in these various locales, but her love affairs leave her unsatisfied and hungry yet again.

Charlotte's journey ultimately leads her home to Brooklyn, where her true love has been waiting all along. Throughout this journey, Enid Futterman's gorgeous photos complement the text and provide readers with an opportunity to explore the dark and erotic relationships of chocolate and love. The ideal Valentine's Day gift, Bittersweet Journey is the perfect book for lovers of all kinds.

David Finkle
Enid Futterman is not the first to write about chocolate and desire with great sensuality, but she may be the most intense. At its best, Futterman's writing recalls Marguerite Duras, another writer known for transforming her erotic life into smoldering fiction. Here is a woman whose obsession surely outstrips your own, and you are unlikely to have made a pilgrimage halfway around the globe to weigh the relative merits of the finest bonbons, ganaches, and truffes. Along with Charlotte's internal and external journeys, true chocolate junkies will be euphoric on finding the addresses for all the chocolate shops to which she refers. She also throws in four recipes a la Nora Ephron and Laura Esquivel. But Futterman's passion doesn't stop at the written word. A superb photographer, she accompanies Bittersweet Journey with pictures of chocolate viewed waaaay up close. There's such a superabundance of chocolate here, we can be grateful she left one thing out--a calorie count.
Trenton Times
Henry Jaglom
An extraordinary treat, Bittersweet Journey is a beautifully poetic first fiction. Futterman combines the story of Charlotte's attempt to find true love, with a collection of eccentric and artful photographs of chocolate. From the first page, we know we are in for an unforgettable experience. Though it looks like an elegant gift book, its presentation disguises a haunting novella. With humor, compassion and bravery, Futterman reveals much about love, yearning and all kinds of human hunger. Every woman--and every man who truly cares about women--should read this book.
San Francisco Chronicle
Jami Edwards
Enid Futterman's unique amalgamation of sensuality and chocolate is blended into a visually stunning book that is part novel, part photography book, part erotica, part travel essay, and part cookbook.
The Book Report@aol.com
Laurie Stone
With the compression of poetry and the candor of memoir, Futterman pens a modern fable in Bittersweet Journey, infusing her archetypal hungry woman with yearnings at once specific and resonant, uncloseting the secret of eating that is every girl-child's inner wagging finger. The passion is chocolate because it's dark, narcotizing, melting, and sticky.
Village Voice
Maureen M. Carmen
The subtitle of this charming book says it all. It is the story of a woman's search for the perfect truffle, and the perfect man, a dual quest that is not a trifle. Charlotte begins with candy kisses in the Brooklyn of her childhood and proceeds through her teens and young adulthood seeking the most incredible chocolate in London, Paris, and Brussels, while simultaneously finding new ways to both break and mend her heart. A delightful journey.
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670876945
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/1998
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 9.38 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

CONTENTS:

I. SEDUCTION: Candy Kisses
Chapter 1: Brooklyn
Chapter 2: New York

II. OBSESSION: The Dark Continent
Chapter 3: Vienna
Chapter 4: Munich
Chapter 5: Zurich
Chapter 6: Brussels
Chapter 7: London
Chapter 8: Paris

III. REDEMPTION: The American Dream
Chapter 9: Walpole
Chapter 10: The Big Island
Chapter 11: Tuila
Chapter 12: New York
Chapter 13: Brooklyn

The Chocolate

The Recipes
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First Chapter

CHAPTER 1/Brooklyn

Her father's kisses were candy bars, which her mother had forbidden.

Every evening at seven, Charlotte would hear his key in the lock and she would run to greet him. He would not lift her into his arms, but he would smile their secret smile before he removed his hat and coat and hung them in the closet of the hall.

She would wait until he had walked wearily down the hall and into the bathroom to wash his hands. Then she would open the closet and put her hand in the pocket of his heavy grey overcoat. She would smell it before she felt it, thin, flat, and hard. The words of her parents' sharp voices were garbled, but she could hear the round sound of her own heart beating. She would lift her treasure quickly from its hiding place, and hide it again, hoping her mother was too busy feeding, or finding fault with her father, to notice.

After supper, which she would pick at, after I Remember Mama or Father Knows Best, she would brush her teeth and hair, take off her school clothes, and put on her pajamas. She would turn off the light, climb under heavy blankets, reach under her pillow, and unwrap it slowly and quietly in the darkness. She would close her eyes and open her mouth.

It quieted and excited her at the same time. Everything about it was a relief--its flavor, color, fragrance, even its name, which was so like hers. Sometimes she would whisper it, like a magic word, as if by saying it, she could taste it. It was a word of consonants, a collision of hard and soft sounds. She would utter them slowly, savoring even the tiny silence between the two syllables, and the almost inaudible t.

Chocolate.

To Charlotte, a chocolate bar was a Hershey bar. Nothing else could provoke the same hopeful, fearful anticipation, or provide the same profound pleasure. And although it was milk chocolate (which, otherwise, she hated), it was darker; to the innocent palate of a child, it was almost bittersweet.

She loved its plainness; almonds would get in the way. She loved the glossy brown paper and the shiny silver letters that caught her eye in movie houses, grocery stores, and subway stations, long after she had grown up. She even loved the stories of American soldiers who gave Hershey bars to grateful French girls. Her father was her American hero, and she 400 was his jeune fille. Until she turned twelve and entered that brief time in the life of a woman when she is, or believes herself to be, herself.

At twelve, she knew things, and could do things. Snap pictures with her own camera. Take the subway to Coney Island and ride a Steeplechase horse. Buy her own chocolate bars at the candy store around the corner.

At twelve, when her mother did not even cook, other mothers baked. Charlotte was not impressed by cakes, not even chocolate ones, or brownies. Too much cake; not enough chocolate. But when another mother made fudge, she was allowed to stir the bubbling brown mixture with a wooden spoon, tracing the shape of a figure eight on the bottom of the pot. The pot was a cauldron; the figure eight, a hex symbol.

Her first taste of fudge came years before her first kiss, but it was just as sensational. A familiar, beloved taste was suffused with warmth and depth, and it stirred her in a completely new way, instilling the false hope that her own mother, who considered sugar poison, would make fudge too.

In the middle of that night, on her way to the bathroom, Charlotte saw a light, and in it, her mother, with a strange and sad expression on her face. Her book was lying facedown, on the arm of the easy chair. Charlotte's gaze was as fixed as her mother's, until her eyes wandered to an open box of Barton's kosher bonbons. A relative had brought them for Passover, but they had disappeared faster than the afikomen. She returned to bed, angry but resolute. the other mother would teach her how to make fudge; she would give herself permission to eat it.

Shortly after her thirteenth birthday, the window that had open began to close. The boys she wanted were not the boys who wanted her. She was baffled. Her father adored her; why didn't they? But her father left her every morning before she awoke, so that he could be in his office in New York at seven. "New York" was what people who lived in Brooklyn called Manhattan.

Long before she left home, she had forgotten how to make fudge, and had withdrawn the permission she had given herself to eat chocolate. She had become her own mother, and could no longer receive her father's kisses.

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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, February 6th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Enid Futterman to discuss BITTERSWEET JOURNEY.


Moderator: Welcome, Enid Futterman! Thank you for joining us online to discuss your new book.

Enid Futterman: Thank you. It's nice to be in a new form of journalism. I've never done this before, but it's already interesting.


Vanessa from NYC: What do you think is the best chocolate shop in New York City? Does your book list this information?

Enid Futterman: The best chocolate shop in New York is also the best chocolate shop in Paris -- La Maison du Chocolat on 73rd and Madison. It's probably the best chocolate shop in the world.


Thomas from Brooklyn, NY: I see that Charlotte traveled to Brussels, Paris, and Vienna but comes back to Brooklyn to find happiness. How autobiographical would you say BITTERSWEET JOURNEY is?

Enid Futterman: It's very autobiographical emotionally, but not literally. Except for the part about Brooklyn and her father and Hershey bars. That was me.


Montey from Lexington, KY: Do you personally think that a lot of women turn to chocolate in hopes of filling a void in their life left empty because they can't find a meaningful relationship?

Enid Futterman: Yes. But the void is not just the lack of a relationship; it's the lack of a solid sense of self. A void in the psyche. And what I believe is missing is the dark side, the dark aspect of femininity. The wild, primitive self.


David from Iowa: Were you really addicted to chocolate?

Enid Futterman: Yes.


Rory from Florida: Hey Enid, I have two questions for you: 1) How do you overcome writers' block? 2) What kind of camera did you use to take the photographs in this book? Thanks a bunch!

Enid Futterman: 1) By waiting for it to come. It does, if you let it. If you are open to it. 2) A Canon EOS Rebel.


Mark from Santa Fe, NM: When you envisioned your first novel, did you ever imagine chocolate would be the catalyst?

Enid Futterman: I never envisioned a novel. I envisioned a musical.


Nancy from Orlando, FL: What is your favorite recipe in the book?

Enid Futterman: Chocolate Fudge. I worked on it for a long time. Forty or 50 batches.


Randall from Ft. Lauderdale, FL: How come there are so many women addicted to chocolate? Is this a gender thing?

Enid Futterman: Yes. And there are many biochemical explanations, having to do with some of the 400 compounds that make up the substance that is chocolate, and female hormones. But I think it has as much to do with the female psyche as the female body. I think women sense unconsciously that chocolate contains a dark, primal part of themselves that they have repressed since childhood. Women are taught that to be feminine they need to be nice, sweet, good. But to be truly feminine a woman needs to be all of herself, and most women recognize that something is missing. But they look outside of themselves to find it -- often in bad boys and good chocolate.


Edith from Ocean City, MD: What prompted you to initially write this book?

Enid Futterman: A desire to transcend my obsession with chocolate.


Jose from Puerto Rico: What do you think about the Willy Wonka film?

Enid Futterman: I don't remember it.


Elaine from San Francisco, CA: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got your book published?

Enid Futterman: I found an agent to represent it through the friend of a friend. She sold it to Viking.


Julie from Prince Street, NYC: Have you ever displayed your photos in any galleries? Just curious -- your name rings a bell, but I just can't place it....

Enid Futterman: Yes. Twelve of the photographs are currently being shown at the Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson, New York, through this Sunday. The same photographs will be shown at a reading on February 25th at 7 (I think) at Bridgewater/Lustberg, a photography gallery at 560 Broadway, in SoHo. It is part of a series called Verbatim. I will be reading a chapter of BITTERSWEET JOURNEY and another writer will be reading from his or her book.


Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: Do you think this book would make a good Valentine's Day gift?

Enid Futterman: I think it would make a great Valentine's Day gift.


Marty Neslon from USA: What prompted you to package this work in the manner you did? Did you ever consider publishing this novel as a straight novel?

Enid Futterman: No to the second part of the question. I wanted to explore my relationship with chocolate verbally and visually. It's a sensual thing, and I wanted it to be felt in as many ways as possible.


Shamus from Boston: Hello, Enid. I once read that eating chocolate releases the same endorphins as a kiss. Is that true? Was that part of the inspiration to BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE?

Enid Futterman: Probably. It certainly releases endorphins, and it is said that they are the same as those released in the brain when you are in love. The inspiration had to do with the connection between the obsession with chocolate and the obsession with longing, romance, and what we believe is love.


Glen from Chapel Hill, NC: What would be the ideal Valentine's gift for a chocoholic?

Enid Futterman: A copy of BITTERSWEET JOURNEY and a pound of chocolates from one of the chocolatiers in the source section. Or a small box from several chocolatiers. See pages 90 and 91.


Jainee from Long Island: I'm going to Brussels in a week, no kidding. Any suggestions on where I should go for the best chocolate fix?

Enid Futterman: See Chapter 6. Not Godiva. Not Neuhaus. Not Leonidas. There are three really good ones.


Richard from Acton, Massachusetts: Hello, Enid. I Imagine that the Internet is truly still the most untapped source of information ever concerning direct-response advertising. I am starting my own Internet advertising business on the Web and am hoping that a chat group and Web page will be used and noticed. Could I ask you for a quick response on this?

Enid Futterman: I imagine so, but I have very little Internet experience. This is my first attempt at using it in this way. We'll see.


Jessica from Chattanooga, TN: How much say did you have in the artistic layout of your book? I was checking it out the other day in a store and I think it looks really terrific.

Enid Futterman: Thank you. I think it looks terrific too. It was designed by Alexander Isley, and we talked about it beforehand, and my editors and I were given three different designs to choose from. We agreed that this was the best; so did Alex.


Bridget from Midland, TX: So, how addicted were you to chocolate? How much chocolate did you consume a day? Was it a daily habit? Hourly? And finally, how did you cure yourself?

Enid Futterman: Maybe "addiction" is too strong a word.... I craved it. But I resisted most of the time, except when I was depressed, or anxious, or felt rejected. And then I could consume a box of truffles for dinner. And did. I overcame it by writing this book. By taking the journey with Charlotte, my character. By confronting my own darkness and integrating it instead of acting it out. I think of this book as a modern myth, in which the heroine descends to her own underworld and comes back into the light whole. My hope is that other women will use it as myths were used in primitive societies -- to feel the things that have not been felt before. To learn things about themselves viscerally instead of intellectually. Several women have told me that this is so. It is, of course, only the beginning of what will be a longer and deeper journey.


Lenea from Lenea34@aol.com: Did you research this book by eating a lot of chocolate?

Enid Futterman: Yes. I had to eat a lot of chocolate, because I tasted every kind of chocolate I could find all over the country, and the world, in order to come up with a list of chocolates I thought were the best. I wanted the book to serve as a subjective, discriminating guide to the best chocolate in the world. Also, I thought that if I had to eat all the chocolate I wanted, I wouldn't want it so much anymore. I don't, but I think it has more to do with the answer to the previous question.


Peppermint from Patty: Did you gain any weight while writing this book?

Enid Futterman: Yes. Some. But it's gone now. My relationships with chocolate in particular, and food in general, are pretty good now.


Rita from Oyster Bay, NY: How did your chocolate addiction begin?

Enid Futterman: Just the way Charlotte's did. See Chapter 1. Brooklyn.


Terrence from Hershey, PA: Do you consider white chocolate chocolaty at all? It just tastes overly sweet to me. Also, do you prefer milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semisweet...? Thanks.

Enid Futterman: I don't consider white chocolate chocolate. It isn't chocolate; it's cocoa butter. I don't really consider milk chocolate chocolate either; it's mostly sugar and milk. Chocolate is dark.


Etienne from Lexington, KY: Where does chocolate come from? Cocoa, I guess, is obvious, but where does cocoa come from, and how do you get different types, like dark chocolate?

Enid Futterman: Chocolate is made from cocoa, which comes from cacao, which is grown on trees in tropical climates. The only chocolate made from cacao grown on American soil is Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate, which is one of the best, if not the best chocolate in the world. You get different types of chocolate by using different types of beans, and different proportions of cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla (and milk if it's milk chocolate).


Matt from West Village, NY: What do you think about "Seinfeld" ending?

Enid Futterman: I think it's the right decision, but I will miss it greatly. I hate television deaths.


Daring from SF: What an unusual pitch for a book. I work in publishing, and I wonder how you ever sold it to your editor. By the way, it looks gorgeous.

Enid Futterman: Thank you. I didn't sell it; my editors (I have three) just bought it. They have vision.


Carol Lemmings from Seattle: The design of BITTERSWEET JOURNEY is gorgeous. Did you have any say in its production? I love the dust jacket -- it reminds me of powder or confectioner's sugar. See ya!

Enid Futterman: Thank you. I discussed it with the designer, but it is his design. His name is Alexander Isley. We (the editors and I) were given three designs to choose from. They were all good, but this felt right to all of us, including Alex.


Rory from Florida: Enid, two more questions: 1) What are your future plans for writing? 2) What inspired you to create such great characters in this novel? Thanks again!

Enid Futterman: 1) I have three books in my head -- a memoir and two others. 2) People I have known and loved and liked and disliked.


Lilian from Aurora, CO: Can we expect anything new from you in the future? I really like BITTERSWEET JOURNEY.

Enid Futterman: Thank you. Yes, I hope so. I have a few books in mind. As soon as I finish talking about this one, I'll start to write one of them.


Gretchen from New Orleans, LA: I'm curious to get your opinion of the Internet as a new form of media.

Enid Futterman: I love this. I don't have a lot of Internet experience, but this has been fascinating and fun.


Moderator: Thank you for joining us online tonight, Ms. Futterman. Any closing comments?

Enid Futterman: I appreciate the interest and the response of readers; it's nice for a writer who spends a lot of time in a room alone to get feedback. Thank you, all of you.


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