I posted this review elsewhere, but I'm reposting it here to kick things off.
REVIEW: Nanny Ogg's Cookbook by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs, Tina Hannan, and Paul Kidby
Having read all the Discworld novels thus far, and having started off this book-reading blog with the latest one, Snuff, I didn't expect to read another Discworld book. But Christmas shopping gave me the chance to buy, and then read, an interesting spin-off book in the series. I've heard that Nanny Ogg's Cookbook has even spawned a stage play in my native Australia at the very least. So I decided, after buying it, to take the plunge...
JHC Goatberger is in trouble. His Ankh-Morpork publishing business is losing money after many books, two of them Nanny Ogg's, were withdrawn from publication due to various reasons including obscenity. But when a third manuscript of Ogg's arrives, Goatberger, discovering that it is less lewd than The Joye of Snacks, decides to publish it, despite the fact that Ogg has clearly pilfered many of her recipes and knowledge from other publications. Within the cookbook, the reader can find many recipes (including Lord Vetinari's for bread and water, Lord Downey's for arsenic flavoured sweets, and Sergeant Angua's vegetarian meal), but also Nanny Ogg's philosphies on life, death, love, and etiquette...
This book obviously contains no story, save for the overarching one of how the publishers have decided to publish Nanny Ogg's book, as well as their need to make sure that anything lewd is censored, of which there is surprisingly little, given how bawdy Ogg is. One finds it hard to review a cookbook, but the recipes have a humourous air (I remember reading, years ago, a Doctor Who Cookbook, which had humorous titles, illustrations, and which sparked off a three day infatuation with mushrooms). Lord Vetinari's recipe for bread and water has a great twist at the end, and Lord Downey's recipe for arsenic-laden sweets has the authors emphasising that no arsenic be added, for obvious reasons. We also have some insights into the characters of the series, most of them old news, but some interesting new ones (like Nobby Nobbs actually having a mother, and one that looks human, at that).
Besides the recipes, the rest of the book is given over to advice on etiquette. Despite Goatberger and his foreman Cropper's assertions, this reads more like Ogg doing the telling, albeit a toned down Ogg. We also have some intriguing new insight into Lancre and its folklore, including a very creepy scarecrow that seems to be distrubingly Weeping Angel-like, if not actually malevolent. The humour is okay, but the book, while entertaining, is not spectacular.
Even so, this is definitely something for the Discworld fan to enjoy. Interesting, humorous, and with some recipes to try, it adds a certain flavour (pun unintended) to the Discworld mythos.
First words: Memo from JHC Goatberger
Last words: 'Tir Nani Ogg', The Square, Lancre.