Sunday, February 15, 2015

"The Hundred Foot Journey" by Richard C. Morais ~ Book Review

Young Hassan Haji grew up learning about the love of food and cooking from his mother. Surrounded by spicy Indian foods cooked in their restaurant and the food markets of Mumbai his mother passed on her love of trying new foods and gourmet outings on to her son. But when tragedy strikes the family, their father takes the family on a journey out of India, all across Europe and finally settles in England. But when again circumstances dictate a move the family unwittingly ends up in a small picturesque village in France called Lumiere. When purchasing the mansion across the street from a very high class inn and restaurant, the family opens up their own Indian cuisine restaurant, Madame Mallory, the Michelin award winning chef,  must face her own issues of fear, mistrust and entitlement. As they wage culinary wars against each other, young Hassan is still drawn to the French way of cooking and Madame Mallory realizes that he is a truly gifted chef. When yet another tragedy strikes, Madame Mallory at last gives in to what she knows she must do, and that is to train Hassan in the art of French cuisine knowing he will make his mark in the world with his gift. Hassan leaves his family and crosses the hundred feet across the road to become a student of Miss Mallory leaving his Indian way of life and cooking behind.

 First off, I must qualify that I saw and fell in love with this movie before I read the book. The movie, to me was wonderful with incredible scenery and food photography. It gave you a real sense of the love and beauty of "real" food and the wonder of preparing it, both French and Indian. I loved the love story line, the friendship story line, the story of overcoming prejudice and fear. I loved how Hassan, his father and Madame Mallory changed and grew in the movie.

 Now the book. In a very rare case for me, I did not like the book as much as the movie. This is the second time this has happened to me in a story that featured cooking and food, the first being Julie and Julia reviewed here #27. While I guess this story was an ok read, it covered a much longer time period in Hassan's life than did the movie, which is only natural. But the thing that I found so different, and it took me a long time of thinking about it and to pin-point it, was that the book was missing the sweetness, the charm and the humor that the movie had. The movie story veered off the book in a lot of places and I found that I liked the changes and liberties that Steven Knight, the movie screenplay writer, had taken. While the movie brought out the beauty of food, I found the book actually grossed me out in a lot places. The father was written as a man of less than charming characteristics who didn't seem to change a whole lot like he did in the movie. There was descriptions of some things about him that really were useless to the story, in my opinion, but left a yuck image to me, the reader. Madame Mallory was a much more unlikeable character than even the movie portrayed and I found I mistrusted her true motives at the end even though she did take young Hassan under her wing. The book got into some of France's ins and outs of owning restaurants that may or may not have interested me so much. And I didn't like the character of Hassan in the book as much as I liked him in the movie, he didn't have that air of innocence that the movie gave him. So in this case, I hate to say, but I know I will re-watch the movie over and over but I will take a pass at reading the book again, though I guess it was good to read it to find out the original way the author intended the story to be.

Book Challenge Goals Met:  A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit; a new to you author; a book that became a movie; a book with a number in the title; a book set in a different country

Will also be linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books


Love Bears All Things said...

I saw this movie and was told by those that read the book that the movie didn't cover all of the book well.
Mama Bear

nikkipolani said...

Thanks so much, Susanne. I wanted to have a film to share with my mom and I think she might enjoy this one. Funny to get a film recommendation from a book review ;-)

Barbara H. said...

Like nikkipolani, I appreciate knowing of good movies, and I had not heard of this one. Since our d-i-l is Indian, that might provide even more interest.

Karen said...

The movie is in my queue for Netflix. I've heard so many good things about it, and your review makes me want to see it all the more.

I agree with you about Julie and Julia. I didn't like the book at all, but I watch the movie whenever it comes on television. It's a softer and more romantic version of the original story.

Faith said...

well i've never heard of the book OR the movie! seriously. I do remember Julie and Julia and LOVED the movie. It (the book you review here) doesn't sound like one I'd go for.

Barbara H. said...

We watched this last week and really enjoyed it.