The Telling Room Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Telling Room

This is a true story of a man who cannot get a certain type of cheese out of his mind. Seriously. Michael Paterniti starts the book in 1991 when the young man works as a freelance writer writing a newsletter for Zingerman's, a deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The co-owner, Ari Weinzweig, sold a unique, expensive cheese from Spain called Paramo de Guzman. Ari had met the cheesemaker and was so impressed that, even though it was very expensive, he sold it from his deli. Paterniti wrote about this experience for the newsletter and over time he ended up writing for travel magazines and publishers, even though that cheesemaker, Ambrosio Molinos, was always in the back of his mind.
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Eventually, Paterniti sought out the cheesemaker, believing there was a story to this man. Little did Paterniti know what he was in for. He traveled to Spain, found Ambrosio Molinos and discovered that his cheese business had been stolen from him. Molinos was angry and bitter and told Paterniti tales of betrayal, all over the cheese that Molinos made with love. Molinos's childhood friend, Julian, became a lawyer, and Molinos swore that it was Julian who tricked him into signing his business over to investors who didn't care about the cheese the same way Molinos did and used less-than perfect products.

Paterniti was so enthralled with this story that he was able to get his agent to sell a book proposal to a publisher for a nice advance. Now all Paterniti needed to do was write the book; therefore, he brought his wife and young children to Spain for several months for research and to interview Molinos almost daily. However, time went by and Paterniti realized the book was more difficult to write than he originally thought. His publisher was eager to get the manuscript while Paterniti struggled. Finally, he realized that what he needed to do was interview Julian to get his side of the story, even though that made him feel as though he were betraying Ambrosio, a man with whom he had forged a close friendship. Naturally, Julian's story was different from Ambrosio's and, unlike Ambrosio, Julian carried no ill will toward his friend. Ambrosio lost thousands upon thousands of dollars in his business deal and swore that Julian gained a nice sum from the investors, which Julian disputed, explaining that Ambrosio knew cheese but not business.

By the end of the book, twenty years have passed since the friendship was destroyed and the reader, like the author, hopes that Julian and Ambrosio can mend their friendship since it is a burden for family and friends in their small town. No spoiler here, but without a doubt, it proves that a piece of cheese has a lot of power. And, obviously, Paterniti finally had the book published.

Best part of story, including ending: How a writer can write about a certain kind of cheese made by a fascinating man and keep this reader interested.

Best scene in story: When Ambrosio was teaching the author how to drink wine a specific way that the people in this small town did. It was amusing.

Opinion about the main character: His perseverance to keep going and bringing this small town to life for the reader.

The review of this Book prepared by Carol Hoenig a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Telling Room

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Plot & Themes

Big Business story?    -   Yes Business:    -   losing big business Food    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   small businessman


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Spain Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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