An easily digestible tale

Sweeping story will warm hearts and tingle tastebuds.

Author Richard C Morais.
Author Richard C Morais.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
By Richard C. Morais (A&U)

I've never eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant but I imagine they are places where your every desire is catered for slickly and expertly, and pleasure is guaranteed. Reading The Hundred-Foot Journey by New York author Richard C. Morais is very much the same sort of experience. This is a shameless reader-pleaser of a novel, carefully concocted to warm hearts and tingle tastebuds. It was written in the hope that one day it would become a movie and so it has come to pass (hence this film tie-in edition).

It's the story of a young Indian boy called Hassan Haji who grows up caught between the slums and the rich enclaves of Mumbai, living above the family restaurant. After tragedy strikes, the Haji clan pack up and move to London and from there embark on a journey that ends in a small, picturesque French mountain town where they open an Indian restaurant, to the consternation of some locals.

No one is more outraged than Madame Mallory the snobbish proprietor of the elegant Michelin-starred inn across the road and she proceeds to wage war against the newcomers.

However, when she discovers that Hassan is a culinary genius she offers to mentor him so he can reach his full potential. Hence the young man's hundred-foot journey across the street to Madame Mallory's inn and to a bittersweet new life.

Amusing, as smooth as Hollandaise and effortlessly digested, The Hundred-Foot Journey
will satisfy foodies and lovers of sweeping, fabulous stories.

Pete The Bushman
By Peter Salter with Nigel Zega (Random House)

New Zealand has a huge enthusiasm for true-life wilderness stories. It seems we like nothing more than tales of people toughing it out in isolation on the West Coast. Peter Salter has been living his dream life as a bushman in Pukekura for 35 years (he owns the town, population two) and this memoir tells of how he got there. There's lots of hunting, shooting and killing from start to finish. Possums are trapped, deer are taken down, and blood flows. Salter is also staunch in his opposition of 1080, calling it an "obscene poison" that kills many more species than the possums it is aimed at. Plus, he's the plain-speaking type with a dry sense of humour, a love of a good challenge and a healthy disregard for stupid rules.

It's all very good, keen man and perfectly timed with Father's Day only a month away.

by Roddy Doyle (Macmillan)

Gloria and Rayzer overhear their granny and parents mumbling about their beloved Uncle Ben and how the black dog has got him. They decide to find the black dog and fight it by sneaking out on to the streets of Dublin at night and tracking it down. In this delightful fantasy they discover the word "brilliant" has amazing powers. On their quest they are joined by Ernie the friendly vampire as well as all the other children of the city who know how the black dog has been spreading his poison. Will they be able to conquer it and find Dublin's funny bone again?

This book deals with the serious subject of depression in the guise of a very readable and engaging adventure story. The dialogue between the children is utterly believable and very funny. A recommended read for children eight and above.
Review by Mary Wadsworth of Pt Chev Bookshop and Resource Room

Amisfield: Food, Wine And Stories From Central Otago
(Random House)

Far more than a cookbook, this is the story of how a piece of rabbit-infested scrubland in Central Otago was transformed into one of our premiere vineyards and restaurants. There is history here, some winemaking details and plenty of recipes, of course, from Amisfield's chef Jay Sherwood. These range from simple bruschetta ideas to complex labours of love.

Some of the ingredients might be tricky for North Islanders to source - like West Coast whitebait and wild rabbit - and many ordinary households won't be equipped to make the charcuterie. But it all makes for great food porn and I did find plenty of must-cooks in the pasta, risotto and soup section as well as some interesting new ideas for preparing vegetables, such as charred cauliflower with soaked sultanas, pine nuts and chilli and a recipe for on-trend cavolo nero that promises to make this worthy green taste wonderful.

Amisfield is a book is for food and wine enthusiasts, rather than novices. It is beautifully designed and photographed and made me want to go and eat at the award-winning Amisfield bistro even more than I did before.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
By Viv Albertine (Faber)

Viv Albertine was the guitarist of iconic 1970s English punk band The Slits. When that band broke up, she disappeared into a marriage in which her creativity wasted away. This is the story of how she got to that point and how she resumed her creative life after 25 years. Along the way are fascinating interactions with Sid Vicious, John Lydon, Mick Jones, Ari Up and many other famous figures of the punk era; unexpected connections with musicians and actors as diverse as Jenny Lee Lindberg and Tom Hiddleston; and the voice of a fine storyteller. My favourite book of the year so far.

Review by Tim Jones a Wellington author, poet and editor.

Conrad Cooper's Last Stand
by Leonie Agnew (Penguin)

Set in 1978 during the Bastion Point occupation, Conrad Cooper's Last Stand deals with the young lead character's search for identity and his growing political awareness. As a Pakeha, he stands out because he identifies more with Maori culture than his own, believing wholeheartedly in Tane, the God of forests and birds. Conrad's activism leads him to plant a forest in his family's backyard and kidnap all the local cats so they won't catch the forest's birds. Conrad's faith in Tane is often tested as he searches for answers about the world he lives in and his troubled home life with an unpleasant stepfather.

Award-winning New Zealand author Leonie Agnew has also written Super Finn and The Importance of Green.

Review by Danielle Wright of children's books and news site

Nicky's best read

By Nicky Pellegrino

As Hillary Clinton keeps America guessing over whether she will have another tilt at the presidency, Vanity Fair has published a first-person story by 40-year-old Monica Lewinsky, who will be forever known as the young intern who had a fling with Bill Clinton. Lewinsky's essay about life after scandal is thoughtful and powerful. She writes of the depths of her humiliation, her struggle to get someone to employ her and why she believes, in today's connected digital age, it could have been even worse. It's on the magazine's website.

- Herald on Sunday

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