18 Jun 2014

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY.

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY by RICHARD C. MORAIS.

SOURCE: Received for review from Publishers, Alma Books.
The Hundred-foot Journey
THE BOOK {According to Alma's press release}: The Hundred-foot Journey is the story of Hassan Haji, a boy from Mumbai who embarks, along with his boisterous family, on a picaresque journey first to London and then across Europe, before they ultimately open a restaurant opposite a famous chef, Madame Mallory, in the remote French village of Lumière. A culinary war ensues, pitting Hassan’s Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Michelin-starred cordon bleu, until Madame Mallory realizes that Hassan is a cook with natural talents far superior to her own.

FIRST SENTENCE {Mumbai: Chapter 1}: I, Hassan Haji, was born, the second of six children, above my grandfather's restaurant on the Napean Sea Road in what was called West Bombay, two decades before the great city was renamed Mumbai.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {33}: But still they came, begging for work, their gaunt faces pressed against the back door, Papa chasing them away with a roar and a swift kick.

MY THOUGHTS: Soon to be a major motion picture (I believe it opens here in the UK on September 12th) The Hundred-Foot Journey is available in different covers including the paperback version I received and, for those who like the idea of a movie edition, a cover featuring three of the films stars.

A tale of humble eateries, a novel of fine dining, that takes the reader from India to France via England and other parts of Europe. With a narrative that is by turn poignant (I actually found myself shedding tears over one character's decline) and sumptuously mouth-watering (not to mention occasionally laughably cheesy) this should have been a veritable feast of a story and yet ultimately I found it unfilfilling.

Full of descriptions that were incredibly vivid if at times a little too lengthy and a portrayal of Indian cuisine that was impressive (the French element less so) I'm afraid it was the plot, so obviously a secondary consideration, that was lacking. The fact that the author acknowledged he had high hopes the book would become a film telling in as far as it went some way to explaining why at times the novel read like a screenplay.

With narrative such as a pan seethes with “prattling onions and furiously spitting lemon grass" and scenes which see clams no bigger than babies fingernails being served I'm sure this is many a foodies idea of literary heaven, its just unfortunate that it wasn't to my taste.


Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.
Disclaimer:  Read and reviewed on behalf of publishers, Alma Books, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.

13 comments:

Lindsay said...

Great that you gave this one a try, I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not, it sounds like the writing is good but the story not as strong, thanks for your fab and honest review Tracy.

Brian Joseph said...

I am really into food so any book like this is of interest to me. I love the idea of the "home" trained cook pitting their food against a pro.

I also think that my wife would really like this one so I will recommend it to her.

Kelly said...

I do enjoy reading about food and watch a variety of food competition shows on TV, but don't consider myself a "foodie" (they're often too pretentious) so I'm torn as to whether I would enjoy this or not. Add to that, neither French nor Indian cuisine rank in my favorites. Still...the premise sounds interesting.

Perhaps I'll just wait and catch the movie version once it makes it to Netflix.

Literary Feline said...

I read this when it first came out and had to go back and read my review just now to see if I remembered how I felt about it right. :-) I felt similarly to you, although at the time, I had trouble naming exactly what it was that I found lacking. I think you hit the nail on the head in explaining it. I did like it overall--but just an average like.

Suko said...

Tracy, thanks for your honest words about this one. It sounds like it has potential but didn't quite "do it" for you.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

This one might be better as a movie than a book. Either that or trying to get someone interested in Indian cuisine. :D Brilly review!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I like the sound of it.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

that's a shame the book was written to fit a movie too much...doesn't always make for the best reading. thanks for your thoughts though!

Bo said...

In situations like this, with such a lukewarm review, I would hold out for the movie. In this case, I think I'm busy opening night. Doesn't sound like my cup of tea at all.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I haven't heard of this one- but I am sure I will be hearing more about it since the story is going to the big screen. Sorry you didn't enjoy the plot more!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I'd probably enjoy the film more than the book - which is unusual for me. Hadn't heard about it so thanks for reviewing it!

Heather said...

I'd go see this as a movie. I would enjoy reading about the indian cooking, but so far, French food or talk about it has left me flat. thanks for sharing this.
This is a great title. Made me want to come and check out the review.

Claudine G. said...

Ooh sorry it wasn't to your taste. I like the voice in the lines you shared so I'll check the book out soon. Poignant stories are right up my alley but if it's all or mainly just about food, I don't know if I might like it that much after all. Still, let's find out ...