Abbas Haji is the proud owner of a modest family restaurant in Mumbai. But when tragedy strikes, Abbas propels his boisterous family into a picaresque journey across Europe, finally settling in the remote French village of Lumiere, where he establishes an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai.
Much to the horror of their neighbour, a famous chef named Madame Mallory, the Indian establishment opposite her own begins to garner a following. Little does she know that the young Hassan, son of Abbas, has discovered French cuisine and has vowed to become a great French chef. Hassan is a natural whose talents far outweigh Mme. Mallory, but the tough old Frenchwoman will not brook defeat.
Thus ensues an entertaining culinary war pitting Hassan’s Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Mme. Mallory, leading the young Hassan to greatness and his true destiny.
This vivid, hilarious and charming novel – about how just a small distance of a hundred feet can represent the gulf between different cultures, different people, their tastes and their destinies – is simply bursting with eccentric characters, delicious flavours and high emotion.
Having watched the movie when it came out last year, i was familiar with the story line of The Hundred-Foot Journey. However much to my surprise, the movie is actually quite different to the book so i actually had no idea what was going to happen next. I think i preferred the book because comparing the two now, the movie is very “Hollywood” whether the book is unpredictable and even a bit melancholy.
I really liked Hassan. As a young boy and teenager he was really quite endearing. As he grew older i admired his humility. He was smart, talented, respectful and you could really get inside his head. I loved his family and the way they were described – so colourful and full of life. Madame Mallory was a force of a character and you couldn’t help but like her even though she could be so frosty. I really liked the comparison between the French and the Indian – in terms of culture, people and cuisine. And how Hassan became the product of those two colliding.
The writing was so descriptive and i loved how even the non-food descriptions were compared to food! It was hard to read this book without getting hungry.
The book was really well written, drawing you into Hassan’s world. The author really made you feel like you were a part of it with the use of different senses to set the scenes. It was a really interesting premise – really quite fresh. I really enjoyed how everything wasn’t spelled out to you either. There was a lot of subtlety.
Overall i really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it, especially to those who like stories that involve descriptions of food! It was a really rich story, so colourful and vibrant.