Saturday, 10 September 2011
The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C Morais
But unfortunately it was a mediocre book in many regards. I did like the central storyline but the book couldn't seem to decide whether it wanted to be a realistic 'autobiography' or a fairytale. As a result some of the situations felt very contrived and the main character, Hassan, had far too much luck to make the story credible.
Everything was much too happy too. There are some minor instances of prejudice but for the most part Hassan and his family fit in with rural France incredibly quickly and never miss home. Hassan gives up his native Indian cuisine in order to be a French chef without a second thought as he accepts immediately that French cooking is 'better'.
The characters were caricatures too. We had the old-fashioned grumpy French chef who didn't want to accept that an Indian person can cook better than she can. We had the nasty Michelin inspectors. We had angry chefs. We had a stereotypically large and boisterous Indian family. Which is why I think this novel would have worked much better with a touch of the fantastical, a touch of fairytale. It could have been a magical book that way.
Despite all of my criticisms, I never wanted to stop reading this book and it did pass the time enjoyably. The setting of rural France in the first half of the book was described absolutely beautifully and as someone who loves her food, I loved all of the cooking and restaurant sections. It's clear that Morais loves his food too and did a good amount of research into both French and Indian cuisine. But overall it just lacked that specialness.
Verdict: Interesting plotline but situations are too contrived and characters too stereotypical.
Score: 2.5 out of 5