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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Book Review: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Sometimes you buy a book because you are interested in a story, sometimes you buy it because of the cover. In this case, I bought it because of the latter, and I have no regrets about doing so. I read Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim and I loved it!

Credit: Penguin Randomhouse

The book is about Natalie, who returns home after her mother’s death and decides to re-open her grandmother’s restaurant, which is located on the first floor of the apartment that she inherits. She learns to reconnect again with her roots, with the place that she grew up in and the people who knew her family best while at the same time learning the magical recipes that her grandmother left.

What I love about the book is the way that it opens the reader to the world that Natalie is in. The way everything is described makes you imagine what it all looks like and really takes you to that place and time. I loved that it was not just about the story of Natalie re-opening the restaurant but it was also about relationships, magic, culture and yes, love (with a guy described as looking like Daniel Henney – I knew I would love this book!).

So much about how things, places and people are described in this book made me picture the scenes as if I were watching a movie. Everything just seemed to come to life as I was reading it. If anything for me defines a good book, it is when I can picture everything in my head when I’m reading it and can see faces of the characters as I encounter them in the book!

The magical element was something that I enjoyed about the book. It was about how cooking and food can be a magical thing that helps heal a person or makes a person feel things just from a bite. It reminded me of this movie starring a young Sarah Michelle Gellar called Simply Irresistible where everything she cooked also had a magical element that made people feel what she was feeling when she was cooking.

For Natalie, the magic in food was something that her grandmother knew from the start. The recipe book already shared which food was best for whatever issue the person who would be eating has. In a way it seems that food was also the medicine that her grandmother gave to people who needed them.

There was so much about the book that I found I could relate to. While I am not Chinese, there is so much of the culture that is very Asian and as such was very relatable to me. I guess it also helps that the writer is Filipino Chinese, so there may be an influence of that in her work.

Natalie’s relationship with her mother and later, her father was something that moved me. It showed how Natalie finally knowing and understanding her family and why things were the way that they were. Sometimes growing up I think we all have felt that we do not understand our parents or that they are being unreasonable. I loved that the book showed that sometimes these things happen for reasons that we were not aware of and we would understand later in life when we have grown up. 

If there is anything that I would have wanted more of in the book it would have been more of the recipes of the dishes that Natalie prepared. Part of me wants to try cooking the recipes as described (or at least something close) but I am not that good a cook to do that!

Maybe a spin off cookbook of recipes inspired by this novel please?


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