Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “These Foolish Things” as Want to Read:
These Foolish Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

These Foolish Things

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  11,096 ratings  ·  1,606 reviews
The book that inspired the box office hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and this year’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel and Penelope Wilton

Enticed by advertisements for a luxury retirement home in India, a group of strangers leave England to begin a new life.

On arrival, however, they disco
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 7th 2005 by Vintage Books (first published March 15th 2004)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about These Foolish Things, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jean-Louis Berthoud Because of the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" which was shot in 2011. Afterwards, the name of book which was originally named "These foolish t…moreBecause of the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" which was shot in 2011. Afterwards, the name of book which was originally named "These foolish things" when it was released in 2004 was changed into the name of the movie.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,096 ratings  ·  1,606 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of These Foolish Things
marissa  sammy
Nov 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: clueless people interested in an exoticized India through the eyes of white racists
This book caused me actual, literal pain.

The jacket describes it as the story of Dr. Ravi Kapoor, a Brit whose desire to oust his lecherous, disgusting father-in-law from his home leads to his concocting the idea of setting up a retirement home for expats in India. A "brilliant comedy of manners" is supposed to ensue.

Well, it never comes. Dr. Kapoor appears only to bookend the story. The rest of it follows the lives of a bunch of racist old white people, doggedly thinking their dreadful racist t
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
After watching the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" recently, I noticed the title of this book in the credits. It has been re-titled with the name of the movie, but this is the original book, published in 2004. I enjoyed it just as much as I did the film, although, as others have noted, it differs in substantial ways. I suppose the changes made to the film version were done in order to streamline the story, but it did make for a very different tale than that told in the book. This all goes ...more
I watched the movie adaptation of this book and loved it. At the time, I had no idea it was based on a book. Browsing during my library book sale I came across this book and snatched it up. Where it sat for months and months. So now, I'm trying to read the books I own and picked this up. What a fun read. I love reading anything about India and Indian culture. Obviously a bit different from the movie version, but I enjoyed both.

The story follows a number of elderly people who have it rough in the
May 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
This book disappointed me.

It was first published (in 2004) with the title “Those Foolish Things.” It was later renamed “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” following the release in 2011 of the film with that name, which is based on it.

I read the book because I had seen the film and enjoyed it, and also because unlike the film, which is mostly set in a small town in Rajasthan, the novel is set mostly in Bangalore, a city that I know quite well.

Had I not seen the film first, I might have abandoned the
May 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was actually quite disappointed with this book. I saw the film first, on a miserable rainy day, and came out totally wrapped up in the lives of the characters, and I really felt transported to India. Because I came away from the cinema with a warm glow, I was really excited to read the book, because, well books are always better than the films, right? Sadly, not in this case, and I wonder whether I would have stuck with it had I not enjoyed the film so much. It felt too messy, there were lots ...more
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going through my fave books and posting mini-reviews of those I think others would really like. And this is one of them, about British adult children who decide the best way to get their pesky elders out of the way is to start a retirement home in India. Very funny and an excellent statement on how no one should be underestimated because of age. ...more
Freda Mans-Labianca
Better than the movie!
At times I felt it was so different too. I love how it was interpreted, but I do love the flow
of the story more when reading it.
I actually had to forget what I had seen. The characters they chose for the film seemed
quite different than the book. While some I could connect the dots, others it was hard, so I just let it go and read. I'm glad I did too. I found the book so much more rich in Indian culture. It made me want to go and stay at the Marigold Hotel myself, or even th
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
An excellent examination of the business of growing old this highly original tale centres around a retirement home set up in Bangalore with the intention of attracting British pensioners.

We are introduced to a variety of characters, from the Indian operators of the home to the incoming residents and their offspring - ranging from the unscrupulous to the exasperated - who are prepared to export their ageing parents halfway across the globe. As the new arrivals touch down on Indian soil the plot
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Linda
I am glad that finally after a very long time on mnt toobie - I have got around to reading this novel. It is a real delight, and it I have discovered a writer I had not previously read. This is a funny and touching comedy of manners set in London and Bangalore, but it has many quite profound things to say really, about ageing, family, and lonliness, and about how important it is to feel a part of something, a family, a group, something to identify with. There is a wonderful cast of characters - ...more
A nice enough little story about about some elderly English living out their senility in India.

Gosh, even that sentence bores me. I don't want to be overly negative, it was an okay book. It was a fast read which helped, any longer/slower and I would have abandoned it.

The first three-quarters of the book were setting the scene for a plot that lasted barely a dozen pages. The characters were lovely, lots of unexplained behaviors. Was this book written with a movie in mind?

I wouldn't read it agai
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Beautiful! Written in a very down to earth with a certain cheek style, this novel delves into the essence of our humanity, our restless search for the meaning of life and happiness.

The novel casts lively characters that burrow under your skin without your realising it and two countries: Britain and India take prominent roles in this colourful tapestry woven with skill for the sheer joy of the reader.

This is the first book I've read from the author and I really had a ball. I look forward to read
The last book I read about Brits mixin' it up with the people of India was A Passage to India. That story involved false accusations, bad behavior, and a whole lot of characters I wanted to punch.

Everyone manages to mind their manners in this book, and many of the characters are genuinely likeable - even the ever-randy Norman Purse, who's been more than a wee bit frisky since his prostate operation.

Norman's the guy who basically gets the ball rolling in this book when he moves in with his daugh
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was just what I needed a good laugh, not because I was miserable but the last novel I finished although excellent had very serious undertones. I needed a complete change of pace which this certainly supplied.

Ravi Kapoor a doctor in London is fed up with his somewhat repulsive and difficult father-in-law whom is currently living with him and his wife Pauline. He is living with them as he keeps getting thrown out of old peoples homes! No one wants him and Ravi wishes he was somewhere fa
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt, this novel is a member of my top 5 favourite read stories of this year. Where to even begin? Well, you can read the blurb to find out the plot, so i'll refrain from repeating it. This is perhaps one of the best examples since Roy's 'God of Small Things' of the complex Anglo-Indian relationship, post independence. The mix of characters, whilst completely over the top, are a refreshing bunch of fun, quirky, old-school (and inherently racist/ignorant) and Raj yearning individuals. ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am left at a loss for words. I have no good words. I have no bad words. This book was very, very just so. Some of the characters showed promise, but none seemed to live up to that potential.

I've been thinking about what to write for two days and the fact that I came up with nothing says a lot. Doesn't say anything good, but a lot none the less.
Jun 10, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Go directly to the movie. Do not stop to browse. Do not try a sample chapter. Do not even read the blurb on the back of the book. Go directly to the movie.

Angie Palau
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: flick-lit
If you read this expecting it to be like the movie, you will find that it is not.

Although I enjoyed the film, it was not this book. Actually I prefer to think that I read These Foolish Things and watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

The names were not changed but the dynamics of the characters were all flopped around. I thought Norman, although disgusting, was an important focal point in the book. (view spoiler)
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having adored the movie, I was motivated to read the book. I was suspicious when I learned the book had been re-titled to match the movie and re-marketed. Perhaps this is a case of a movie promoting a book. The 2 are very different. While the storyline is the same--outsourcing old age, the stories within are quite different.
Being on the threshold of old-age, I understood the thoughts of the characters very well. Aged people from all walks of life, facing declining financial situations, wanderin
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - as usual, it went much more into each character's personality and back story than the movie did.

I have visited Bangalore on business, but even before that, I have had a foreigner's infatuation with all things Indian. I think the readers who were offended by this book did not realize that the author was trying to portray the events through her elderly characters sonewhat ignorant and bigoted perspectives, not her own, and certainly did not assume the reader woul
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, contemporary
This is one of those rare occasions where the movie is much better than the book. The book is fine, but because I first saw and loved both the movie and it's sequel before reading this, it fell flat for me. I actually had some difficulty telling the characters apart and remembering who was who. I think the movie did a better job at intertwining all of the residents individual stories in a complimentary way. ...more
Jacquelynn Luben
Having seen the film a little while ago, I found that the book (originally entitled These Foolish Things) that it's based upon is somewhat different from the film, except that a group of elderly people decide to go to live in a retirement home in Bangalore, South India.

In the film, the main characters are played by very well-known actors and this helps to differentiate between them. With the book, I had to make notes when I was being introduced to this multitude of characters, so that when they
Sep 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this before watching the film and finished it after. Apart from a few character names and a general mashing together of sub-plots, the book and film were quite separate entities.

There were deeply sad tales of the diminishing lives of the various characters.The story brings together disparate characters as their lives intersect in old age. Some of the intersections seemed a little too contrived, but there were no Hollywood endings to be seen.

While the film is funny, poignant and
Martin Belcher
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I saw the trailer for the film version of this book at the cinema a couple of months ago and decided I would like to read the book first. It's not the sort of book I would normally read, so it's thanks to the film that I picked it up.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a story about an eclectic mix of British pensioners moving out to a retirement home in the Indian city of Bangalore. A disenchanted doctor in a busy London hospital, Ravi is encouraged by his brother Sonny to invest money in opening
Terry M
An ok light read... and I do enjoy when seniors are included in a novel as individual and vibrant. I did anticipate a funnier, wittier book. But .. the movie was great. Better than the book. (I don't think I've ever said that before. Will I be kicked-off Goodreads?) ...more
Felicity Terry
Wonderfully vivid, it had me laughing in places, and feeling depressed in others but mostly it left me feeling strangely unsettled.

A story about a motley crew of English senior citizens who, for a variety of different reasons, decide to move to India to spend their twilight years in what turns out to be a somewhat dilapidated 'retirement hotel'.

Very depressing in places - the author pulls no punches in painting a bleak picture of what life is like for many of the UK's ageing population and India
Deborah Moggach's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (originally a different title) was the basis for the famous movie of the same name. Many mention that apart from the basic premise and the names of some of the characters, the book and film are quite different. I think this is true - though the theme - of getting old and how the elderly are valued - is a common theme between film and book - as are motifs of regret, friendship, reconciliation and second chances.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is me
Jul 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ok. I loved the movie. Seriously it was the best movie I've seen in ages. I thought, well, maybe I'll read the book. I read an excerpt and it bore no relation to the movie I had seen. I should have stopped there. I purchased the e-book. The movie was wonderful. The book wasn't. Oh, it was well written, but the characters that I loved in the movie were barely present to totally absent in the book. The ones that did double up were 90-100% different. It was jarring. The story was about 25% the same ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it and found it quite moving in places. I am partial to books about India, and also lived in England as a child, and this brought back some memories of both. There were some points made in the book that were rendered subtly and worth remembering.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rendezvous im Café de Flore
  • The Dressmaker's Secret
  • Notting Hell (Notting Hell Trilogy, #1)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • The Boy Who Fell To Earth
  • The Greatest Christmas Stories of All Time: Timeless Classics That Celebrate the Season
  • Paktens voktere (Bjørn Belto, #2)
  • Bluebird
  • Bill the Conqueror
  • Огън и Злато: Предсказанието (Огън и злато, #1)
  • Man in the Yellow Raft
  • The Sister Fidelma 20th Anniversary Collection
  • The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Governess Gambit (The Wild Wynchesters #0.5)
  • Simak Vol. 2: Deadly Games
  • Hellebore #1: The Sacrifice Issue
  • Simak Vol. 1: Hunt on Solar Corona
  • Madame Frankenstein
See similar books…
Deborah Moggach is a British writer, born Deborah Hough on 28 June 1948. She has written fifteen novels to date, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, and, most recently, These Foolish Things. She has adapted many of her novels as TV dramas and has also written several film scripts, including the BAFTA-nominated screenplay for Pride & Prejudice. She has also written two collections of short stories ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
23 likes · 4 comments
“Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end.” 141 likes
“The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment.” 102 likes
More quotes…