As a self professed “reader” I like to add a bit of culture to my reading repertoire. I do tend to focus on a genre (Young Adult) and usually within that genre a subset (paranormal fiction). Now and again, however, I do like to branch out and experience all sorts of new things. My latest “branch out” piece was “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard C. Morais.
The book is narrated by Hassan Haji, who recounts his life history starting as a kid in Mumbai to being a chef in France. The book is littered with interesting characters, steady narration that is at times comical, and very interesting and delightful foods. The story is literally a journey that spans years, and feet, into the soul and heart of the characters and the cultures.
I found the novel, at first, to be a bit slow going. I was having a hard time getting into sync with the characters. I thought Haji was a bit wordy, a lot of his imagery (and descriptions in general) I felt were a bit contrived. There were some great narrations that I felt were perfect and fun and those bits made me keep chugging through. Once the story got into more of the meat of it, the reader kind of gets used to the flowery nonsense of the some of the adjectives.
The characters were flawed and a bit of a struggle and I think that was perfect, it’s always good to have characters with depth that you can really just dislike and then feel are still redeemable (or aren’t redeemable). The character development was solid and really helped bring the piece together. Along with that, the accents were written out and that’s always challenging to do (speaking from experience as someone attempting to write a novel in a Scottish brogue) but I believe they were written out wonderfully. It added such texture to the speech, you could really hear all of the accents and made the imagery something really tangible.
And the food. The food was so interesting to read about – unique and fun, at some parts very graphic and disgusting. They go to the market at one point and there’s a butcher. . . well, I’ll just leave it at that. I almost stopped reading on the spot. But the imagery was sensational. And descriptive.
Overall, I’m not going to say it was a favourite book of mine, but I did end up really enjoying it. So, if your usual style is in the vein of “Eat, Pray, Love” or “Under the Tuscan Sun” then this book is right up your alley.