Book Review The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Summary

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 Lumiere. 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.

Full of eccentric characters, hilarious cultural mishaps, vivid settings and delicious meals described in rich, sensuous detail, Hassan’s charming account lays bare the inner workings of the elite world of French haute cuisine, and provides a life-affirming and poignant coming-of-age tale.

Comments

This novel follows young Indian boy Hassan Haji from his early life in India with his rather eccentric family, to London, across Europe and finally to France in pursuit of fame and fortune in the world of haute cuisine. Told in the first person, it is full of interesting characters and very detailed descriptions of his hard working life as a chef. It vividly describes every aspect of both Indian and French restaurants and, of course, the food.

The turning point in Hassan’s career occurs when Madame Mallory, a cantankerous chef who tries to drive their family out of business when they open an Indian restaurant directly opposite her high class French restaurant, ends the “war” between them and offers Hassan a job. He takes “The One Hundred Foot Journey” across the road and begins the hard work as her apprentice. After several years he moves to Paris and eventually opens his own restaurant and becomes well known and respected. His skill and hard work earn him the great honour of three Michelin stars.

An interesting coming of age tale with a journalistic insight into the life of a chef in the top echelons of haute cuisine.

6/10

Read by Dundas Readers Book Club

Book Review Scrublands

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Summary

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin

can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

Comments

For the most part, we enjoyed this book.  It had us engaged from the first chapter.  A priest in a rural community, is seen welcoming his parishioners before his Sunday services, enters the church to don his robes, he returns five minutes later, holding a hunting rifle. Killing five people, one of whom he was just seen greeting with a warm smile and a friendly handshake.  What could they have been discussing?

Scrublands is well written, and we liked the small insight into how the media, and in a particular a newspaper journalist works.  We loved the side characters and all their backstories, from single mum, Manadalay Blonde, to town recluse, Codger Harris.  However, it seemed to lose it’s way a little towards the end.  There seemed to be a lot going on in a small, rural town.  

Overall, we liked Scrublands and look forward to reading the next book in this series, Silver.

7.5/10

Read by Cultcha Club Book Club  

Book Review Apples Never Fall

Summary

From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now that they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.

But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?

Comments

We really enjoyed this book.  The Joy and Stan Delaney are recently retired after running a tennis school for many years, when Joy suddenly goes missing.  Forcing her four children, to face up to whether their father could possibly have anything to do with her disappearance. Liane Moriarty knows to write about families and all their complexities.  We can never really know what goes on when everyone else goes home.  While for the most part we enjoyed the way the story unravelled, flipping from ‘past’ to ‘now’, at times we did get a little confused.  We loved all the little character stories and how they all came together in the end, linking back to the main story.  Definitely a more engaging read than her last novel.  We would definitely recommend this book. 

Rating 7/10 read by Cultcha Club

Book Review The Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Summary

The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.Two brothers meet at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron.Something had been troubling him. Did Cameron choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…For readers who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

Comments

A well written and suspenseful mystery. The protagonist, Nathan, is the
eldest of three sons in a family on a vast and isolated cattle station
in far outback Queensland. When the body of the second son, Cameron, is
found near the grave of a stock man, three generations of the
family and three workers are aware that someone knows more than they are
admitting. Was Cameron really the upstanding family man and successful
property manager he seemed to be? The history of this family is slowly revealed as the story progresses. The author captured the sense of isolation as well as the atmosphere of the Australian outback.                                                                                                               We all enjoyed this well-paced story which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Read by Dundas Readers

Book Club Review The Book Ninja

The Book Ninja – Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

Summary

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do.It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment. Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams. Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really. A clever, funny and wryly observed story about books and discovering who you really are.

Comments

The Book Ninja is not a book that we would recommend. Although it began well with some excellent writing it was not maintained throughout the novel. We found the idea of leaving the books on trains interesting, but the story seemed to morph into teen angst with the search for a boyfriend. We found the characters shallow, self absorbed and, at times, ridiculous. We also felt there was a lot of ‘book snobbery’ when discussing young adult novels.

Read by MJ Reader