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The Hundred-Foot Journey Paperback – August 9, 2011
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“Serious foodies will swoon. Morais throws himself into the kind of descriptive writing that makes reading a gastronomic event.”
--Washington Post Book Review
“The novel’s charm lies in its improbability: it’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ meets ‘Ratatouille.’”
--New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Richard C. Morais is the editor of Penta, a Barron’s website and quarterly magazine. An American raised in Switzerland, Morais has lived most of his life overseas, returning to the United States in 2003. He is the author of The Hundred-Foot Journey and Buddhaland Brooklyn. He lives in New York City.
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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.
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.
It is, however, never explained how an extended family from India can simply take up residence in Britain, and then decamp to France, tour the country, and when one of their cars break down in a small town, stay right there, buy a huge mansion and open a restaurant! I mean, France has immigration laws!! Never once is it suggested that the family has any problems simply taking up residence in a French town!
Hassan Haji, only a youth at the start of the book, becomes a highly successful chef (no spoilers, and anyway, too long to summarize here). The problem is, his run of luck is just too good to be true. No, the story is pure fiction, and it gripped me as it went on, but the author pulled rabbits out of hats for Hassan! The characterization is good in some instances, and as far as other characters go, not so good. There are some gaps in the story, and for me the book ended rather abruptly when not all problems had been sorted out yet. It's also never explained how the young Hassan managed to give up his Indian cooking heritage at the drop of a hat, and turn into a classic French cook.
I cannot deny that I enjoyed the book very much. I have not seen the film so cannot draw comparisons. But as a work of fiction it does have some flaws.