It's kind of what would happen of The Pilot's Wife and Eat, Pray, Love were put in a Vitamix and spun around: sadness gives way to curiosity, then self-discovery and, ultimately, romance. Maggie, a thirty-something widowed food writer, is called to China by her late husband's Bejing office to resolve a possible paternity suit that demands attention according to Chinese law. Since she's going, she accepts an assignment from her employer to profile a rising-star chef, and parallel discoveries begin: Was her late husband unfaithful? Did he leave a child behind? Can Sam Liang, the Chinese-American chef she's come to profile, admit Maggie beyond his protective armor to allow her to see the emotional center of true traditional Chinese cuisine? Will Sam win a critically important competition that will finish the arc of Maggie's profile? This modern story is interspersed with the diary of Sam's grandfather, chef to China's Dowager Empress, and Sam's father, who spurned his inheritance as culinary royalty to begin a humble life in America. Family, food, forgiveness are the backbone of The Last Chinese Chef. Fans of Nicole Mones' previous work (Lost in Translation and A Cup of Light) will feel full and happy at the end of this book. New readers will be left with an appetite for more.
In this, the 19th Robicheaux chronicle, Cajun lawman Dave Robicheaux and his partner, Clete Purcell, begin chasing one kind of evil and end up being pursued by another--one with its tentacles in both the region's racially tortured past and its environmentally precarious future. If you're not familiar with the Bobbsey Twins from Homicide (long story, explained in the book), this is as good a place to start as any. If you are, you will be very satisfied with Burke's latest tale. The infuriating complexity of his principal characters, coupled with their deep humanity and occasional nobility make the series and Burke one of the country's most honored living writers. These are not "just" mystery novels--although there is mystery and intrigue aplenty. These are highly literary anthropological explorations into a part of the country most people know about, but few people (beyond the ones who live there) know well. The books are marvelous, but this audio version, voiced, once more, by the incomparable Will Patton, makes for several mesmerizing hours.
One of the very best audiobooks I've ever listened to. Suni Malhotra gave a brilliant performance--tone, nuance, pacing were all perfect. Some friends thought the beginning was a tad slow, but consider it a warmup--Verghese is easing you into this amazing epic.
Every time I see the cover of this wonderful book I punch myself for not having picked it up sooner. It's the kind of book you alternately refuse to put down--because you can't--and then deliberately put own, to prolong the inevitable time when the book must end. This is a bad analogy, but it's kind of like Gone With The Wind: memorable characters, romance all against the backdrop of a seismic change in history. Don't listen to me rave--download this book and let it wash over you. You won't be sorry.
One of the earlier reviewers said it reminded her of To Kill A Mockingbird, and I strongly agree. Both books featured sharply intelligent young girls, kind parents who chose to do the right thing, even in the face of popular opposition, and a strong theme of social justice adroitly woven throughout a story full of humanity and compassion. Interesting that this came along at a time public skeptism and prejudice is directed toward Muslim and Arab Americans... Well worth the read, and narrator Loreli King did a wonderful job. Strongly recommended for the young adult reader.
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