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The Mouse-Proof Kitchen: A Novel Hardcover – July 2, 2013

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"A Spool of Blue Thread" by Anne Tyler
This new novel tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. See more
$21.47 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 5 left in stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147670564X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476705644
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


While I’m tempted to call THE MOUSE-PROOF KITCHEN an unflinching depiction of parenthood, that wouldn’t be right.  It flinches plenty, just as it weeps, laughs, rages, despairs, and sings for joy—all in the most pitch-perfect, radiant prose.  Read it.  Just read it.
(Marisa de los Santos New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In, Belong to Me, and Falling Together)

Portraying the complexities of marriage, motherhood, family, and life in a strange land, Shah...combines tragedy and humor into a satisfying tale of love, heartbreak, and transformation. (Publishers Weekly)

Hovering somewhere between chick-lit–ish comedy and heartbreak...[The Mouse-Proof Kitchen] touches deeper, less predictable notes.
(Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

Saira Shah has won three Emmys for her films Unholy War, Beneath the Veil, and Death in Gaza. She has also written an autobiography, The Storyteller’s Daughter. Saira retired from filmmaking in 2003 and divides her time between the UK and France.

Customer Reviews

The characters were very interesting and real.
The strengths of the book are succinct writing and a compelling story.
MJ Brodeck
I recommend this as a thought-provoking and enjoyable read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Hoffman on July 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I usually have a lot to say or at least general points I like to mention in reviews but this time I feel so all over the place with this novel... I really don't know what to say or how to begin.

The novel begins with Anna and Tobias welcoming their daughter Freya into the world. Right from the beginning it's obvious that there's something wrong with her. While in the ICU of a an English hospital, they are given a vague diagnosis that their child is severely disabled. They at once begin to loathe this child and how she will ruin their perfectly made plans. One of these plans includes moving to France where Anna can open a restaurant and Tobias to practice his music thing.

Eventually they buy possibly the most dilapidated house in all of France. A house full of mice, bugs, dirt, structural issues, and a plethora of other things that a good home inspection would have requested this house to be condemned. For some obscene reason these parents think that a disabled child can be raised in such a mess since there's always the option of... you know what.

I've felt every sort of emotional imaginable towards Anna and her invisible husband Tobias through much of the novel. The most vivid emotion I remember feeling is anger. But then again I have no children, I have no idea what I'd do or how I'd react if the child I birthed were severely disabled. There bitching and moaning didn't help with my feelings towards them.

Saira Shah writes an emotion-packed debut novel that at times I felt I shouldn't be reading because of it's honesty. I really felt that I was let in on a secret that I shouldn't know and now I can't unknow it. This novel is well written and will cause readers to laugh, cry, boil over in anger, and also count the blessings that they do have. Of course there's no way to truly mouse-proof a kitchen but that's no reason not to see the beauty in the moments filled with rodents.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents VINE VOICE on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have to confess, it was the title that made me curious about this book, but I never would have expected to be reading a book that touched so many different emotional responses from me. This book made me angry and sad one minute and smiling and even laughing the next. I read it pretty slow, as I was in some ways afraid to get to the end. Here's why ---

As the story begins Anna, 38 in labor at a London hospital, expecting her first baby. Her husband Tobias arrives while she is already in labor (to myself I'm calling him a jerk already). Anna, is a planner who loves to control what happens in her life, even if that is not always possible. She and Tobias have already discussed moving to Provence once their baby is born, so that their child can be raised in a quaint, peaceful place. Anna is a chef and she is already hoping to open a restaurant in Provence as well. Tobias is more of a fly-by-the-seat of your pants kind of guy; he is a musician and film writer.

When Baby Freya, arrives into the world, it's by an emergency C-section after some heart-rate problems are detected. When she has a seizure right after birth, it is clear she has some issues. MRI's and testing reveal her brain has not developed normally, and has a condition called: Polymicrogyria. She will be severely limited for as long as she lives and her life expectancy is unknown. Her frequent seizures could end her life at anytime. Anna and Tobias are devastated and after learning more details about her daughter's condition, they even consider abandoning Freya and moving on with their lives. They fear that they will be unable to love and care for Freya, believing they could never handle all that responsibility required of someone who is raising a disable child.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel is a deeply affecting story of Freya who has come into the world with profound neurological disabilities. The birth of the imperfect child, especially one profoundly ill, marks a point of grief for the old life and a deep mourning for old dreams. Anna and Tobias are soon forced to understand the cruel division of loving their child, but knowing they will lose her prematurely. Through the book they take in turn their attempts to deny the bond. In a brash effort, they take move to a ruined manse in France in order to pursue the dreams that remain. Obviously, one goal is a mouse proof kitchen that will never come true.

The author notes that while the book is fiction, the child is based on her own child. The parents in the book are a world different than she and her partner, yet each approach is a struggle to deal with this most difficult of blessings. As Anna's mother says, "You can't cheat fate." These characters make some choices that wouldn't be my choices, but they are choices motivated by their fear of a love that will most certainly break their hearts. Their parallel efforts with their home provide a great metaphor for the rest of their lives, and they happen to be amusing and interesting. I found this book to be a love story, but not a fairy tale one, a real life love story.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Debnance at Readerbuzz on July 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Anna and her husband Tobias eagerly anticipate the arrival of their first child. When Freya is born, the parents learn she will never develop the way most children do, that she will live a short and difficult life. Anna and Tobias, nevertheless, buy an old home in France and decide to take each day as it comes with Freya.

I suspect this is a very honest look at the anxieties and pain and burdens and resentment and, yes, deep love that comes with having a child who doesn't grow and change as expected. It's a beautiful story of the way regular people try to face, then shirk, then try to face again enormous, lonely, and unexpected responsibilities, full of the frustrations and anger and joy that these responsibilities bring.
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