Karen L. (Wilton, IA)
The Mouse-Proof Kitchen
The book starts off slow but after I was almost half way through the book, I couldn't put it down. The characters are flawed but very human, very real and none of them are all good or all bad which is very true to life. This book would be good for book clubs because I think there are many discussion points. I think it would be good for those who have a disabled child or for friends and family of disabled children. It's a good reminder that life isn't perfect but it can be good anyway. I would recommend the book to just about everyone. The book surprised me because I thought I knew how things would turn out but I was wrong. I was happy I was wrong in my predictions of how things would turn out.
Dorothy T. (Victorville, CA)
Sometimes life gets a little messy
The phrase on the cover of this novel gives a good indication of what to expect inside. The central character is Anna, who likes order and planning, but when her daughter is born profoundly disabled she finds she has a lot to learn about being flexible, and more so after she and her partner move into a disabled home in a remote area in France.
The author gave me a lot to think about regarding love and relationships, particularly the kind of unconditional love it takes to face difficulties. She also has much to say about motherhood: are we the mothers we are because of the mothers we have, or in spite of or as a reaction to the mothers we have? Anna is forced to confront these issues, and the result is a compelling read.
There are some plot turns that I found puzzling, especially near the end, and I found some of the language unnecessary, but this is a good read and a great choice for book clubs.
Lori E. (Wayland, MA)
The book deals with a very difficult subject, a child born with severe health problems and how the parents cope with this. It was thought-provoking, but certainly won't appeal to everyone. More difficulties arise with stress in the marriage, ethical decisions regarding the baby's medical issues and relationships with family and friends. The tough subject matter is offset by interesting descriptions of what it was like for a British couple to move to a decrepit house in France and the people in the community.
Although I found the book to be a compelling read, I would be very selective about recommending it to someone I didn't know well, because it could be very disturbing to people who have related issues.
Michelle N. (Hillsdale, NJ)
Loved this book from start to finish...
When I read the first chapter of this book, my first thought was that it was a book that would be dealing with some heavy-duty issues- Anna and Tobias, the main characters, have a baby that is born with severe mental issues. They are so severe that Anna and Tobias are not sure they even want to take the baby home! But they have been looking for a house in France, and they find a run-down old villa that Anna thinks might be perfect for opening a restaurant. The story of Freya, the baby, is interwoven with descriptions of Anna & Tobias settling into their new home (which is literally falling down around them) and is enhanced by a cast of quirky neighbors and wonderful descriptions of the countryside, Anna's cooking and constant attempts to keep the mice (!) out of the kitchen, as well as the nature that surrounds them in their villa, from bugs to the food that grows to the strange animals. It is wonderfully written and draw you completely into the story, and just when your not sure how it can possibly end, the author does a wonderful wrap-up with the main characters. Loved it and hope to see more from the author. What will grab your heart even more is if you read the author's note in the back, you will see that Freya's disabilities are the same as the author's daughter. Very touching and beautifully written book.
Suzanne G. (Tucson, AZ)
A story of love
This is a love story. A story that can make you cry, can make you laugh and above all, can make you appreciate life. The experiences of each character in the book will stay with the reader for a long while. It is beautifully written. I did think the ending, including all the characters, seemed too good and sweet and fluffy. There needed to be more "real life" at the closing. Yet, I couldn't put the book down. I loved it.
Jeanette L. (Marietta, GA)
The Mouse Proof Kitchen
What a wonderfully human book, it pulls at the heartstrings. This book is about Anna, Tobias and Freya, their new born daughter. Her brain didn't develop properly; she'll be physically and mentally handicapped. It's their journey of coping, learning the everyday requirements of feeding, bathing, nurturing and loving this child against their better judgment with no hope of Freya's improvement through the years. It is as Anna says "Love is the earth that holds our roots in place. Without it, there's nothing to keep us from falling over".
It is the triumph of love over the unexpected difficulties of life.
Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA)
The Mouse-Proof Kitchen
I think this book is misnamed. The ratty – yes, as in rats – kitchen is, of course a symbol of Anna's (the narrator) life gone drastically wrong, but the title itself is too flip for the depths of this book.
There is much to experience: The birth and care of a severely disabled child. A fascinating debacle of an old estate set in the lush and wild French countryside. Vivid, bizarre, engaging characters offering their advice and moral compasses to a young mother/chef finding her way in a harsh, new world. Mother/daughter relationships are carefully examined, as is the roller coaster of marriage. World War I and II exploits play a part in the plot, as does the nurturing of a garden and family and friends. Anna notes, "…human beings are sometimes so resilient, sometimes so easily overturned." The ending is a bit too tidy and convenient for the tumultuous story, but all is well written. This is a book one endures, rather than enjoys.