The Hundred Foot Journey
Richard C. Morais
Much as I have advised when reading the Julia Child biography My Life in France, don't read The Hundred-Foot Journey if you are hungry. The book is delicious.
Beginning in barely, middle class India at a family run restaurant, The Hundred Foot Journey actually covers many miles before settling in France. The bulk of the story is a set up for a showdown between classic French cuisine and Indian cooking. The loud and boisterous Haji clan moves to a small mountain town in France. They set up roots and a restaurant across from a renown French inn and restaurant. The Michelin-starred restaurant is run by the fierce Madame Mallory.
Back across the street, young Hassan Haji is manning the kitchen for the Indian family eatery. Madame Mallory tries both legally and non-neighborly ways to subvert the Hassan business. However, when she dines at the Hassan restaurant she is devastated to discover that Haji can not merely cook -- he is an artist. Her respect for talent and discipline above all else changes all their lives.
Manish Dayal as Haji Hassan and Helen Mirren as Madame Mallory is the new film.
The newly opened film spends most of it's time in France. Characters are developed and switched, which works. The film is very satisfying--with wonderful performances by Helen Mirren and Om Puri as Madame Mallory and Papa Haji. The book reads like non-fiction, and the film seems like fiction. Both of which make for time well spent.
Richard C. Morais is the editor of Barron’s Penta, a quarterly magazine and website offering insights and advice to wealthy families. Prior to Barron’s, Mr. Morais worked for Forbes magazine for 25 years.
My Life in France
Baltic, messy winter weather is practically a character in the new Cormoran Strike detective novel. The inclement weather exacerbates the one-legged, former military man's movement around London and life.
His strawberry-blond assistant Robin is the perky counterpoint to his world-weariness. Newly busy following the successful solve of the case that introduced us to Strike, the pair have a lot more work. The last case, told in The Cuckoo's Calling, involved the wealthy and the beautiful. The new case involves the literary world of authors, agents and publishers.
An author's wife enlists Strike to find her errant husband, Owen Quine, who has disappeared. His disappearance is magnified by the circulation of a draft of his latest novel, which is a veiled attack on the publishing world. Besides the dowdy, down-trodden Lenora Quince, there are at least five characters that could have had something to do with Quine's disappearance--it can get confusing.
And then there's the unpublished novel, Bombyx Mori. A mess of a tome that features horrible, fantastical characters designed to assassinate anyone who never appreciated Quine's gifts. However, it's easy to read Galbraith/Rowling's work quickly. She knows how to move the plot and not to tarry too long in anyone place.
Robert Galbraith is the nom-de-plume for JK Rowling, the phenomenally best-selling author of the Harry Potter series of books about wizards. The Silkworm is the second novel following private detective Cormoran Strike.
The Cuckoo's Calling
So on to a book to recommend for the book club or your next read: Julia Fierro's Cutting Teeth. This is Fierro's debut novel, which I approached with a jaundiced eye. My interest in privileged mothers in Park Slope and their children was minimal. But I enjoyed the book immensely. Parents from a children's play group gather at a Long Island summer home for the weekend. The home is not in some tony town, so the action does not get usurped by the scene. The complexities of spouses, insecurities and real issues that consume lives is the heart of the plot. There are some surprising plot twists with a somewhat predictable crisis. But certainly this is a great read for the beach, train, plain or bed time.
Julia Fierro is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, which has been a creative home to over 2000 writers since 2002. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow, her writing has appeared in Guernica, The Millions, Flavorwire, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her