Review by Geetha Kulkarni
When young Hassan Haji takes the hundred foot journey that takes him across his father’s home to the home of Madame Mallory, in a small French village, he walks to his destiny. This is a delightful novel about the making of a chef, whose journey begins in a family run restaurant in Mumbai, moves to London, from there to a small village in France and finally to Paris, where he becomes the first immigrant to achieve three star status in the snooty world of French gourmet cuisine. The title is The Hundred Foot Journey but it covers a lot of miles. It is quite the journey.
The book tells a good story with its imaginative plot. It covers plenty of geography and straddles many cultures. It is to the author’s credit that he started to tell this story from the perspective of a young Indian Muslim boy without having visited India, which he later did. The book has interesting characters, Madame Mallory and Papa Hassan to name a few, and is laugh-out-loud funny in parts.
The book was written by Richard Morais with the specific purpose of having his friend Ismail Merchant turn it into a movie. Unfortunately Ismail Merchant died before that could happen. The movie has been released now and though I have not seen it, I can see that the narrative will lend itself beautifully to film.
If you are looking for a brisk, light read, an entertaining and engaging book, one that delves into family, relationships, coming of age; one that will make you know and love the characters; if you love food and fine dining then this is the book for you.