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Monday, July 1, 2013

The Mouse-Proof Kitchen: A Novel

Saira Shah's The Mouse-Proof Kitchen called out to me for it's promise of love, loss, and coping with what hands us. In other words, life.

Anna and Tobias, a very happy, very chic couple, are expecting their first child and after that plan to move to Provence from their current London home. When baby Freya is born, however, they are stunned with the news that their daughter has scrambled eggs for brains. They choose to still move to France where they must learn to cope with a handicapped baby, a crumbling house, a new life--and a new kitchen filled with mice. Life as they know it will never be the same, but will it be too much for them to make it, or will they find solace in one another and baby Freya?

This novel had such a languid feel to it. I found myself identifying strongly with Anna and her struggle to love her child while balancing the indifference of her husband. Anna was such a sympathetic character, and even as she recognizes she is turning into an un-fun, nagging housewife, the very thing she swore she would never be, I still loved her and would have fiercely fought on her side to defend her choices.

I loved the secondary characters in this book as well, all of those crazy French countryside residents who each have their own way of doing things which is the only right way to do it. I found each character to be terribly endearing, even Tobias who at times drove me up the wall with his surface-level callousness that was simply masking fear and anxiety. I desperately wanted Anna to mouse-proof her kitchen and succeed in her one-woman war against the nature of the French countryside.

I found myself thinking about these characters when I was away from the book, and that to me is the sign of very well-developed characters who live and breathe. This book is well worth the read if only to be in their world for a short time.

Kindle on left, hard copy on right.

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