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The Hundred-Foot Journey
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January 2017: Foreign Literature > The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais - 4 stars

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message 1: by annapi (last edited Jan 21, 2017 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

annapi | 4916 comments The story of Hassan Haji's journey from his family's restaurant in India to his own ascendance as a Paris chef is filled with delicious descriptions. From the beginning it's a riot of colorful, almost poetic prose as the author takes you through the streets of India, to the bustle of London, through several countries in Europe, before finally settling the family down in Lumiere, France, a small village near the French Alps, and then in the second half of the book we get acquainted with Paris.

But I struggled with the first third of the book. If I hadn't been reading this for a game, I might easily have been distracted by other things I was reading, as I could not connect with the character of Hassan in his early days as a boy and a teen. The descriptions of India were a mix of the savory and the unpalatable, which admittedly put the reader in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a country that I imagine cannot be too far from the markets of my own Philippines. I did feel like the author deliberately inserted distasteful bits (the smells of cooking mixed with sewage, for example) for the shock value. Thankfully, there's not too much of this, and it disappears when the family leaves India.

Once the family settles in France, the story becomes more interesting, with the introduction of Madame Mallory and the French restaurant that is across the street from the Hajis' Indian restaurant. The battle between Mallory and Hassan's father is amusing, then becomes serious when Hassan is hurt. But this is where Hassan's character really blossoms and the story becomes his own.

I did not see the movie, but I read a synopsis in Wikipedia, and it's evident they changed quite a few things. I think the book sounds much more interesting than the movie, but then that's par for the course. I'm very glad to have read this book, because I thoroughly enjoyed the last two-thirds of it, despite the slowing of the pace in the final third. Because of all the delicious descriptions of food, I intend to recommend this to my mom, who is a good cook and a gourmand herself.

The author is Canadian, and has lived all around the world, so between that and the plot I figured this fits the foreign literature tag.

message 2: by Flo (new)

Flo (matthewmurdock) | 145 comments I really loved the movie version of this, so maybe I'll have to pick up the book at some point! :)

message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8298 comments Just adored the movie!

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