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Mangoes and Quince: A Novel Paperback – March 6, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (March 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582341958
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582341958
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,426,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Best known for In Nonna's Kitchen and other books celebrating Italian cuisine, Field gives food and cooking an important role in her debut novel. That should come as no surprise. More unexpected are the novel's settings--Amsterdam and the East Indies, in the early '60s--and overcomplicated plot. Abandoned by her South Seas-besotted husband, Anton, and not knowing whether he is dead or alive, Miranda Peeters lives with her daughter, Diana, and Anton's mother in Anton's family home in Amsterdam. Having no income, Miranda turns the once-grand family home into a boardinghouse for men and becomes known for the meals she provides. When her mother-in-law dies, Miranda decides to open a small restaurant in the house. But first the question of who has title to the property must be settled, and an investigator is sent off to the Spice Islands in search of Anton; this investigation is important to 13-year-old Diana, because she misses her father deeply and suspects he could understand her in ways her mother cannot. Parsing all these complex relationships would have been challenge enough for many a skilled novelist. Field ups the ante considerably, adding subplots about East Indies artifacts and a painting hidden away in the house in Amsterdam. More problematically, she involves Anton in sexual rites that overwhelm the story, crowding out the more delicate moments she tries to dramatize. When Field turns to the opening of Miranda's restaurant (and the quince and apple tart served that night), her writing soars. Unfortunately, more often it sinks, as she fails to illuminate her characters. (Feb.)Forecast: Many a cookbook has been carved out of a popular novelist's literary oeuvre, but Field's attempt to swim in the opposite direction--from culinary to literary renown--will likely prove less successful, though foodies may take note if copies are stocked around the cookbook section of bookstores.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This first novel by cookbook author Field (In Nonna's Kitchen) attempts to combine its narrative with lush, sensuous descriptions of food. After a nomadic family settles in Amsterdam, their bonds soon fall apart, and each family member finds some other obsession to fill the void. The father flees home to become an island cult leader, and in his absence, his wife opens a boardinghouse and restaurant, mixing cooking with romance in a way that seems more forced than believable. The daughter, whose best friend is a mango-eating monkey, insists on finding her lost father while continually dealing with her unemotional mother. The plot is disjointed at times, adding too many characters who are not vital to the story. The writing style generally flows well, but overall the novel tries too hard to satisfy all of the senses. Recommended for larger public libraries with strong literary fiction collections. Cecilia Cygnar, Niles P.L., IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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This book reads so well!!
Elaine James
The reader is instantly seduced by the rich images and vivid depictions of both Amsterdam and the East Indies.
Mathea Falco
The writing is flat, the characters cardboard, and there's way too much purple prose.
Japan Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mathea Falco on March 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This extraordinary first novel carries the reader into fascinating, mysterious worlds: the Dutch East Indies, the exotic lives of a charismatic cult leader and his followers, and the adventures of a magical monkey named Majine. But the heart of the story is the poignant, moving coming of age of the book's main character. The reader is instantly seduced by the rich images and vivid depictions of both Amsterdam and the East Indies. But Field's descriptions of the sumptuous dishes created by Miranda in her new restaurant are so delicious that the reader is compelled to read more, and then to read again this remarkable novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Just after World War II, Anton brought his Australian "child"-bride Miranda home to Amsterdam, but his mother Ria rejects Miranda. Over the next few years, Anton went on many sea voyages, eventually leaving Miranda and their daughter Diana behind with his mother.
When Diana is still a preadolescent, Anton fails to return from his latest sea voyage. With the bills piling up and no income coming in, Miranda decides to take in borders. Soon her cooking skills become famous and many of the housewives start ordering her dishes. Over the next few years as Diana becomes a teen she misses her father. When Rotterdam anthropologist Max Madoqua learns about all the exotic items in Miranda's home that Anton brought home over the years, he makes an attempt to see them using Diana's father fixation as his avenue to the collection. With Max's prompting, Diana sneaks into her father's two special locked rooms to begin a quest to find out what happened to him.
MANGOES AND QUINCE is a period piece that centers on the deep characters, especially Miranda, Diana, and to a lesser degree Ria and indirectly Anton. The story line travels at a leisurely pace so that the reader can savor the feelings of the principal players. Not for action lovers, Carole Field has written an interesting family drama that will please those historical cozy fans. This is one of those rare books that belong on the keeper shelf

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By V. Rudd on August 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was wandering through the bookstore one afternoon and just picked this up randomly. I can honestly say this is my favourite "pick up" so far, and I pick up many different books. Carol Field is very passionate in her detail, and the characters' stories are ones that you feel personally despite the (at times) exotic locale.
I felt an indifference towards Miranda at first, but I did admire her tenacity. Of the 3 generations of women in that house, I felt the most compassion for the eldest and the youngest, but I guess I understood most where Miranda was coming from......
This is a wonderful book, a captivating read, and a perfect rainy afternoon escape. It won't take you long to finish it!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kikidale on January 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this unpredictable story about exotic places and people and food, hauntingly beautiful,fabulous and bazaar... food and characters that jump off the pages ...I read it years ago and re-purchased it so I could read it again. I'm thinking it should be made into a movie...it is a bit dark in spots, and a little twisted...warning to the faint hearted...:) I'd like to read what others have to say about this book.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased Carol Field's first novel on a whim and have to admit that, unlike some other reviewers, I found it a definite page turner. My amateur "opinion" is that the author tried to make the storyline as "exotic" and "sumptuous" as possible in every way. Where this worked amazingly was in her frequent descriptions of food, cooking, restaurant preparation, etc. and how the subject of food relates to so many aspects of the characters lives. Where it proved disturbing was in Field's treatment of the pagan sexual "rites" and the disturbing sexual obsessions of the missing husband and father in the novel. Her description of travel among the islands of Indonesia is alluring however (I have no idea if they are accurate). The sexual rites described in the book are very unsettling, even though they do provide an all too vivid explanation for both Miranda and Diana's mental anguish. Where this book shines is in the emotional drawing out of the lives of Miranda and Diana after the death of the grandmother. Their piecing together of their lives through the opening of the restaurant and the accompanying narratives are compelling. I kept wishing that the storyline of the missing father had been less "over-the-top" (even though the chapter that alternates letters from the private investigator looking for the father followed by the meandering visions of Diana at home is frighteningly effective).
The novel concludes with some very beautiful writing about the healing of the indifferent and strained relationships between mother and daughter. Field has a very profound knowledge of structuring sentences and using words to paint vivid mental and emotional images. So I felt that the reviews who dismiss her first novel out-of-hand are wildly missing the point.
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