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The Hundred-Foot Journey Paperback – August 9, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
With his debut novel, longtime Forbes magazine correspondent Morais delves into a rich, imagery-filled culinary world that begins in Bombay and ends in Paris, tracing the career of Hassan Haji as he becomes a famed Parisian chef. Narrated by Hassan, the story begins with his grandfather starting a lowly restaurant in Bombay on the eve of WWII, which his father later inherits. But when tragedy strikes and Hassan's mother is killed, the Hajis leave India, and, after a brief and discontented sojourn in England, destiny leads them to the quaint French alpine village of Lumière. There, the family settles, bringing Indian cuisine to the unsuspecting town, provoking the ire of Madame Mallory, an unpleasant but extremely talented local chef. From vibrantly depicted French markets and restaurant kitchens to the lively and humorously portrayed Haji family, Morais engulfs the reader in Hassan's wondrous world of discovery. Regardless of one's relationship with food, this novel will spark the desire to wield a whisk or maybe just a knife and fork..
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Grandson of an entrepreneurial lunchbox deliveryman, Chef Hassan Haji tells of his rise to culinary success in Paris via Bombay, London, and a small town in the French Alps. With a fond, over-the-shoulder regard, he presents the lively family members, friends, and former foes who shaped him as a young chef, leading him to face his destiny and realize that cooking is not only in his heritage but also in his blood and bones. The novel floats along a bounty of vivid food imagery, a twisty-turny river of dishes Indian, French, and everything in between. With an obvious insider's knowledge of the restaurant milieu, journalist Morais delivers a world where Michelin stars determine not only the popular appeal of a restaurant but also the happiness of its executive chef. This novel, of mythic proportions yet told with truly heartfelt realism, is a stunning tribute to the devotion to family and food, in that order. Bound to please anyone who has ever been happily coaxed to eat beyond the point of fullness, overwhelmed by the magnetism of just one more bite. --Annie Bostrom --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Then I hit the middle of the book and everything skidded to a halt. The story just seemed to stop, the characters became two-dimensional, and instead of a story I was reading some Time Magazine "Lifetime in review" of the chef. I have no idea what happened. Where did the interesting people go? Where did the storyline go? Was this even written by the same author? The beautiful prose was still there, there was just no character development, no plot, no humor, no point.
I'd still recommend people read this book because the first half is sooooo good. I just wish, I really wish, that the author would go back and fix the second half. Or just cut the book in half and end in Lumiere. I hear this will be made into a movie, so I hope the movie fixes the blatant flaws in the story-telling.
That being said, I look forward to reading other work by this same author, because I know he can write (btw he is a journalist by trade). I just hope some editor can sit down and help him fix his plots so he can produce a more cohesive novel in future.
Let me continue by noting that the movie is the PG tangent of the book. They are very, very different - and I like the movie better, likely due to the aforementioned fact that I saw it first. It captures a magic only hinted at in the book.
Richard Morais writes well, and engages the reader; I can almost smell the food he describes. The problem is, I got more than a noseful of a lot of stuff in the book that I didn't need or want. I honestly felt terrible that I had recommended the book for book club - and in my birthday month, no less. The only up-side was having Indian food for our book-club dinner!
I had no idea the level of language in the book - or that there would be sex scenes. I'm sure they are tame compared to what else is out there (50 Shades, anyone? - and no, I haven't read that, nor will I) - but I felt the language and steamy content were absolutely unnecessary. And really? Hassan falls in love (lust) with his cousin? Sorry ... that was ridiculous imho.
I can't tell you how many times I nearly stopped reading the book; if I'd bought a hard-copy version rather than Kindle, I would have made a special trip to Half-Price Books just to get it off my hands. Not my favorite, nor recommended.
For example, when a key character - key to his entire life's success - declines and dies, he never visits this person. Since Hassan is fictional, that just seems weird. It's either lazy writing, or the author is trying to say something cold about Hassan...but that wasn't true of Hassan at any point in this book.
And since he obviously made certain choices about love and family, how did he feel about those choices at the end of the book? And the award that Hassan won - the deux ex machina of this story - was given just as he seemed to be unsure about whether he really wanted to be in the biz anymore, so why would that reignite his zeal? Which it seemed to do, although the book ended there, so I don't actually know.
Yet I devoured the book, because there was dramatic tension. I wanted to know what Hassan would do as a mature man. Would he start a family? Move back to India? Tell Michelin to stick it, leave Paris, and move to the country? Nope. The story just ends. My emotion on finishing the book was to mutter, ¨That's it?¨ Can't wait to see why they made it a movie.