Book Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey – Richard C. Morais

Title: The Hundred-Foot Journey
Author: Richard C. Morais
ISBN: 9781439165645
Pages: 256
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publicist
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Hassan Haji has been enamored of food all his life.  As a young boy in Bombay, he was always around the family restaurant started by his grandfather.  But after unexpected violence and tragedy, the family leaves their home and settles in England, but Hassan’s father is not content.  It’s only after they find a house in France and open a restaurant that Hassan begins to grow into the a true food artist.

Review:

I’m a huge fan of books about food, so it was with delight that I picked up The Hundred-Foot Journey.  This is a book filled with tantalizing descriptions of mouthwatering food.  It made for a really nice change, as I’ve noticed that most of the books in foodie genres are about Italian cooking.  Reading about Indian cooking in fiction was something unique and new, and I enjoyed the experience immensely.  If you aren’t that familiar with Indian cuisine, you’ll still likely find this book delicious, as Morais’ descriptions are really universal.

I loved the story of Hassan.  He was an appealing character, eager to learn and desperate to better himself.  In fact, this entire book is about rising above one’s circumstances in the dream of something better.  Hassan learns this lesson very well from his father.  It’s only when he settles and is no longer trying to improve himself that Hassan stagnates.  It’s a great message – no matter what you have, it’s good to work towards a goal and to try and constantly better yourself.

The Hundred-Foot Journey was remarkably easy to read, and for that I credit Morais’ prose.  It’s wonderfully lush, taking the reader through Hassan’s life easily.  My interest never waned while reading this book.  Morais shows the reader many different cultures in this book, and they are wonderfully depicted.  Sometimes I forgot he wasn’t Indian, as he managed many of the nuances of the culture very well.

As I was reading The Hundred-Foot Journey, I have to admit that I often wanted more.  More descriptions, more plot, more meat.  I don’t say this often, but this is a book that could easily have been 100 pages longer without suffering a bit.  Morais could have fleshed out more of the story that he passes over in intervening pages.  That’s not to say the book isn’t good without that, just that, as a reader, I would have loved the elaboraiton.  Also, a very minor quibble, but I found an error in one of his food descriptions – daal, an Indian staple, is made with lentils, not chick peas.

With these issues, people might think I’d knock The Hundred-Foot Journey down to 4 stars, rather than 4.5, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  I enjoyed this novel too much to even think about giving it less than 4.5 stars.  It was a fun, heartwarming book that I highly recommend to those interested in food, culture, and anyone just looking for a well-written and interesting story!

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Comments

  1. I am so glad to see you loved this book! I have a copy, and since I love food writing, I am really excited about reading it. It sounds wonderful, and I am looking forward to it. Awesome review!

  2. I am so glad to see you loved this book! I have a copy, and since I love food writing, I am really excited about reading it. It sounds wonderful, and I am looking forward to it. Awesome review!

  3. This one looks fantastic and I love that even though you have some criticisms, you still clung to 4.5 stars. This must be a great book 🙂

  4. This one looks fantastic and I love that even though you have some criticisms, you still clung to 4.5 stars. This must be a great book 🙂

  5. I love a book with food too, so this really appeals to me.

  6. I love a book with food too, so this really appeals to me.

  7. I love the food part too but I would have been questioning the authenticity if someone made dhal with chick peas?

  8. I love the food part too but I would have been questioning the authenticity if someone made dhal with chick peas?

  9. I liked this one too, but I wish he hadn’t moved from Indian to French cooking as I preferred the Indian sections a million times more! Then again, I don’t find French food all that appealing to be honest.

  10. I liked this one too, but I wish he hadn’t moved from Indian to French cooking as I preferred the Indian sections a million times more! Then again, I don’t find French food all that appealing to be honest.

  11. Mmm, Indian and French food are my two favorites so this should be a winner! Another great read with lots of Indian food is Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsise.

  12. Mmm, Indian and French food are my two favorites so this should be a winner! Another great read with lots of Indian food is Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsise.

  13. Funnily enough I finished a book this morning that was, yes, based on Italian cooking! Love Italian cooking, but I’m glad to know that there are books out there that cover other cuisines. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

  14. Funnily enough I finished a book this morning that was, yes, based on Italian cooking! Love Italian cooking, but I’m glad to know that there are books out there that cover other cuisines. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

  15. I know sometime you just cannot give a novel less than 4.5 🙂

    Foodie books + Indian cooking = I am in!

  16. I know sometime you just cannot give a novel less than 4.5 🙂

    Foodie books + Indian cooking = I am in!

  17. I have a copy of this and I was lucky enough to have met Richard at BEA last summer. I must, must, must read the novel!

  18. I have a copy of this and I was lucky enough to have met Richard at BEA last summer. I must, must, must read the novel!

  19. Yay — so glad to hear this one is a winner! I’ve had an ARC sitting on myself forever. Must get to it soon.

  20. Yay — so glad to hear this one is a winner! I’ve had an ARC sitting on myself forever. Must get to it soon.

  21. Yikes! I haven’t heard of this book before! Yes, it’s unusual to say ‘it could have been longer’, but that’s a great compliment, too.

    And — shallow of me, but — I love the cover!

  22. Yikes! I haven’t heard of this book before! Yes, it’s unusual to say ‘it could have been longer’, but that’s a great compliment, too.

    And — shallow of me, but — I love the cover!

  23. Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  24. Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  25. I loved this book and am excited/nervous about the movie this year. It could be amazing with Helen Mirren. Trying to stay optimistic!

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