Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Book 32: The Hundred-Foot Journey

TITLE: The Hundred-Foot Journey
AUTHOR: Richard C. Morais
STARTED: October 22, 2016
FINISHED: October 22, 2016
PAGES: 245
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: I, Hassan Haji, was born, the second of six children, above my grandfather's restaurant o the Napean Sea Road in what was then called West Bombay, two decades before the great city was renamed Mumbai.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan Haji first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais—that of the famous chef Madame Mallory—and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures. The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages—charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.

THOUGHTS: I added this book to my TBR list when I saw the trailer for the movie, and thought "If that's a book... I'm reading it."

This is great story about family and coming of age. The characters and plot are fully-formed and came to life so easily in my mind that I don't think I need to bother with seeing the movie. The writing is incredibly vivid - you can smell the spices in the air, feel your hand stirring a pot, and sense the vibe on the streets.

My only complaint about this book is that the lead character, Hassan, feels emotionally stunted. While that can be explained by an event at the beginning of the book - he somehow comes across as stilted in a way that didn't quite work for me.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

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