Happy New Year Cannonballers!
So my “official” goal is a full cannonball, since we can’t elect for a higher one through the website, but I’m shooting for 1 1/2 this year so time to get moving.
I really want to add more “adult fiction” to my repertoire this year, since last year was mostly YA and memoirs, but unfortunately I started with a pretty ho-hum entry in the field. The Hundred-Foot Journey chews through about 40 years in less than 300 pages and therefore leaves one too many “but, what happened in those five years…” moments.
You begin the journey in Mumbai, where Hassan Haji’s grandfather first made a go in the restaurant world selling tiffin boxes to businessmen before building a small restaurant below the family home. Eventually, the Hassan family is run out of Mumbai following the murder of Hassan’s mother and they make their way to England. Honestly, the whole England part of the book could have been left out. There is some sexual awakening on Hassan’s part and you see how depressed & floundering his father, now the patriarch and chef of the Hajis, is following the murder of his wife but otherwise it’s a waste of space is a short book that spans so many years.
After a few years in England the Hajis bounce around Europe and land in France, which is where the bulk of the action takes place. Papa Haji is an abrasive gentleman who rubs his neighbor, Madame Mallory, all the wrong ways while creating an Indian restaurant next door to her 3 Star French restaurant (a hundred feet away). After a small battle between the two and a tragic accident, Hassan ends up being Mallory’s apprentice before making his own way in Paris.
“A powerful thing, destiny. You can’t run from it. Not in the end.”
Part of the problem with fitting so many people, places, and times into so little space is everything seems a little underdeveloped. I just felt myself unable to connect with the characters, who would have been better served with twice the pages, because every chapter was a couple years later and in a different city.
Also, is it just me or is it awfully “American” of Morais to title his book the Hundred Foot Journey when all of the action takes place where the metric system is used?