Sunday, August 11, 2019

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

June 11, 2019
Magical Realism, Fiction
Reviewed by Gina  (
Obtained by Publisher
5 Hearts

Natalie Tan returns to San Francisco after hearing about the death of her mother, Miranda.  For some unknown reason the agoraphobic Miranda ventured out of her Chinatown apartment and killed in a terrible accident.  No one is able to explain why after years of not living her home she suddenly left what she felt the safety of her home.  Natalie arrives to put her mother to rest and finds that her mother has adopted an adorable kitty named MeiMei.  MeiMei quickly wends her way into Natalie’s heart and eases some of the sadness surrounding her mother’s death.  Natalie quickly finds the neighborhood she grew up in has had its problems.  Stores and shops she knew either closed or have been run down.  The economy has not been good to her block.  As she sorts through her mother’s belongings she finds her grandmother, Lao Lao’s, cook book. 

Lao Lao ran a restaurant known throughout Chinatown. It’s residents flocked to enjoy her special dishes.  As Natalie’s life long dream was to own her own restaurant she soon begins to consider reopening her grandmother’s and again prepare those well liked dishes.  While at first things seem to move along smoothly, fate has something else in mind for Natalie and soon it seems all is lost.  Or is it?

What a fantastic debut!  The story starts off a little bit like the original Amy Tan books but then it takes off into a wonderful, unique in some ways direction.  I was originally drawn to the story because it takes place in San Francisco and since it's "my city" I like to see how different authors depict it.

Inside a well told story, heart wrenching at times, humorous at others, she introduces her readers to characters that are each individually drawn with stories of their own.  While I don't cook myself I enjoyed the scenes where Natalie creates amazing dishes I wouldn't mind eating myself.  Easy to replicate recipes are interspersed throughout the book. 

As I said, the story begins in one place—a young woman returning home to deal with the sudden passing of her mother.  As she sets about putting her mother to rest she begins to learn things about her family and herself.  Natalie grows in many ways throughout the story.  I did not see the conclusion coming at all but was delighted with it.  I had to go back and read certain sections to see the hints leading up to it and then re-read the ending because it was just so good.  I can’t wait to see what Lim’s next story will bring.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement

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