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Intoxicated : a novel of money, madness, and the invention of the world's favori
John Barlow
Adult Fiction BARLOW

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Part fable and part vaudeville, this history of the fictional Rhubarilla, "one of the most popular carbonated soft drinks in the world," begins in 1860s England, when Rodrigo Vermilion, a flamboyant hunchback midget, meets businessman Isaac Brookes on a train bound for Yorkshire. An entrepreneur, storyteller and huckster, Rodrigo seizes on the recent trend toward temperance and convinces Isaac, who is rich, to invest in a nonalcoholic pick-me-up elixir with an "un-put-your-finger-uponable" taste. When they hit upon the magic combination of rhubarb and coca leaf, Rhubarilla is born, with the name courtesy of Isaac's 16-year-old son, George. At the same time, Isaac's beloved wife, Sarah, is dying, and his other son Tom believes Rodrigo a fraud. Violent breakdowns and recriminations push the venture-and the family-to the edge of ruin, but forgiveness, persistence and an aggressive advertising campaign put Rhubarilla on the way to its destiny. The novel is less about the soft-drink industry than the Brookes clan itself; unfortunately, the Brookeses prove engaging but not remarkable, and Rodrigo is colorful but hardly unforgettable. What is remarkable is Barlow's attention to period detail, a potent Victorian cocktail of repressed sexuality and simmering violence, but the secret formula that would make it work is missing. (Feb. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This tale set in Victorian England recalls the birth of soda pop. Readers first meet Rodrigo Vermilion, a midget with a humpback, as he's almost kicked off a moving train by wealthy woolman Isaac Brookes. Rodrigo believes that kismet has brought the two men together and that this is the opportunity he's been waiting for all his life-the chance to take a grandiose idea and parlay it into a fortune. Rodrigo soon convinces Brookes and his family to invest in a craze that is sweeping the United States: cool drinks that are refreshing and addicting (made using a now-banned secret ingredient) and will turn them all into millionaires. Thus Rhubarilla is developed. Written by Barlow (Eating Mammals: Three Novellas) in the style of Gregory Maguire's fairy tale reworkings (e.g., Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), this fizzy literary concoction will intoxicate readers who love irreverent humor. Recommended for all public libraries.-Marika Zemke, West Bloomfield Twp. P.L., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Rodrigo Vermilion
Has a humpback; nearly fell off a train; knows grand opportunities when he sees them; wants to invent a new fizzy, fruit drink.

Isaac Brookes
Saved Rodrigo's life; agrees to invest in Rodrigo's soft drink idea.

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