Published by Allen & Unwin on 2010
Genres: contemporary, fiction, general fiction
Source: ARC received from publisher
Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan Haji first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais, that of the famous chef Madame Mallory, and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it captured, and then how strongly it held, my attention. For me, the appeal was in both the incredibly evocative imagery of the story and the multiple themes.
The descriptions of spices, seasonings and other ingredients turned reading The Hundred-Foot Journey into an almost sensory experience, vividly evoking the scents, textures and richness of both the Indian and French cuisines and the process of preparing the dishes.
The development of multiple themes and preoccupations within one major storyline continued to hold my attention despite my general lack of knowledge or even particular interest in the world of haute cuisine. I did enjoy the restaurant/food aspect of the story, but it was the exploration of the cultural clashes, family drama and interaction between the characters that held my attention and added depth to the well-crafted imagery.
With the addition of light humour and charm woven throughout the novel, the story of The Hundred-Foot Journey gently unfolds for readers. The novel is apparently being developed as a film and I think that it will translate well to the big screen.by