This is my favorite audiobook in a great while. What captivated me most are the author's sumptuous and learned descriptions of true Chinese cuisine, which is highly sophisticated in its cultural meanings, ingredients, and preparation. The narration is beautifuly realized, and the love story is handled with unusual sensitivity (no soft-porn passages, thankfully). I felt at the end a much greater appreciation for both Chinese culture and its wondrously complex food.
I love to cook and I grew up learning the art of Asian cooking from my mother. While this story was not a book filled with recipes, it made me want to head to the kitchen and poach a chicken with ginger and spices and search out recipes of age old imperial Chinese cuisine.
I loved this story and could not put it down. Love, betrayal, friendship, disappointment and the unity of family wove two people's lives together in a heart warming tale. The only reason I did not give it a five star rating was because the ending left me wanting for more. Not that the ending was bad - just not enough.
Its all there ... the modern juxtaposed with the traditional, the everyday transformed into the exotic, old love and new. A mix of healing and nourishing food for the body, the soul and the heart. There's even some intrique waiting to be cleared up, which keeps you in suspense. All this with a cast of the most likeable characters you'd ever wish to meet. Yummy!
Excellent narrators make it all come alive.
The Janeite geek
This is one of those audiobooks that I acquired primarily because of the narrator, not the author. (I would gladly listen to Elisabeth Rodgers reading the phone book.) It was a pleasant surprise, then, that the story turned out to be excellent. The Last Chinese Chef was my first Mones experience and her in-depth knowledge of Chinese culture and cuisine was obvious. Being a foodie as well, I caught myself trying to write down the recipes for the different dishes.
Aside from being gastronomic, it was sometimes a bit too gnomic as well. With aphorisms flying left and right you might think that Lao Tzu or Confucious would jump out of the woodwork at any time. I have a number of Chinese friends but I never noticed as much philosophical proclamation as in the book. However, this might be the case in China, or maybe it’s just those Chinese chefs. Move over, Julia!
Kudos to Elisabeth Rodgers for her very convincing Chinese accent. At least I was convinced, but since I do not speak it myself, I will leave final judgment to the Chinese-speaking readers out there.
All in all, it was an excellent and very satisfying read—much like the sumptuous dishes described within. And maybe it’s true what they say about Chinese food—I found myself wanting more just half and hour after finishing the book. I am hoping for seconds from Ms Mones.
Quiltmaker and librarian who loves writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.
I love the descriptions of how traditional Chinese cooking separates flavors and textures in dishes, for example. I also thought the idea of meals as community (served family style) was profound. As I worked my way through the book, I began to see links between the stated theories and principles of Chinese cooking *as it is described in the book* and quiltmaking. There is a beauty and meaning to the way Chinese cooking is described, which I do not feel when I enter an American Chinese restaurant.
The beginning of every chapter has excerpts from a book called the Last Chinese Chef. I don't know if this a real book, but the passages are evocative and towards the latter part of the book, especially the last chapters, I found my mind forming connections between what the narrator was saying and the Design Series I work on with Sandy. Throughout the book, the characters talk about links between the food and history, literature and poetry. I find this very beautiful.
I think this might be one of my favorite books. I know I want to listen to it again.I wasn't sure about listening to this book. I don't know who recommended it initially or why I added it. I know I downloaded it, because I didn't know what else to download.I am not am not much of a fan of the premise, but find the food aspect fascinating. I love the descriptions of how traditional Chinese cooking separates flavors and textures in dishes, for example. I also thought the idea of meals as community (served family style) was profound. As I worked my way through the book, I began to see links between the stated theories and principles of Chinese cooking *as it is described in the book* and quiltmaking. There is a beauty and meaning to the way Chinese cooking is described, which I do not feel when I enter an American Chinese restaurant.The beginning of every chapter has excerpts from a book called the Last Chinese Chef. I don't know if this a real book, but the passages are evocative and towards the latter part of the book, especially the last chapters, I found my mind forming connections between what the narrator was saying and the Design Series I work on with Sandy. Throughout the book, the characters talk about links between the food and history, literature and poetry. I find this very beautiful.Maggie's situation is very sad, but seems to be about money and since she has downsized, I have a hard time feeling sorry for her with regard to the suit in China. I do feel sorry for her loss of her husband and think the grief she feels is fairly well described. I( don't think the name is a good one for the character. It doesn't seem to fit the story or her life story.After finishing the whole book, I see the sort of crudeness of the beginning chapters in the description of the suit and China and think that Nicole Mones smooths out the writing in such a way that the reader is soothed as the story goes on.This is a book where I might want to see the words on the page. This book also makes me want to add a section on Aesthetic to the Design series.
The narration was seamless and pleasant to hear. What could have been a difficult listen - or read for that matter of all of the cooking detail became interesting and enjoyable. I am interested in Chinese custom - and food, and found this book totally enjoyable.
The effortless juggling of plots. I was charmed from the first page till the last. Right up till the end. Twenty minutes out from the end of the book I did not have a remote clue to the outcome - which I find rare these days.
I personally enjoyed their performances
It's the perfect name.
If your looking for soothing - comfortable - pleasing, this is the treat you are searching for.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a lot about Chinese cuisine in the process! Great story, great narrator!
Lovely book: very evocative. Made me realize how impoverished most American eating habits are--plus it should have come with samples!
I live in Pittsburg, CA not Antioch, CA!! Retired since 2013, enjoy listening to Audiobooks, especially Dana Stabenow!
I really, really enjoyed this audio book, the description of China and all the different delicious descriptions of the food being prepared and the various characters. Loved the story from beginning to end, as well as the performances. The description of the food made me really hungry and wishing I could find some of the foods being described :) I highly recommend this book. I will be reading more from this author, definitely!!