Life is messy ... but it's the messy bits that give it meaning.
Anna has a clear plan for her new life. When she discovers she's pregnant, she prepares to finally leave London behind and move to idyllic Provence, France, with her lovable baby-to-be. Anna's partner, the easy-going Tobias, shouldn't have too much difficulty tagging along - after all, he's a musician who rarely starts his day before noon. But all those plans change when their baby is born less than perfect.
Little do Anna and Tobias know that this is the beginning of what will become an incredible journey of the heart, during which they'll learn that there truly is no such thing as a mouse-proof kitchen. The couple and their severely disabled new daughter, Freya, end up in a vermin-infested farmhouse in a remote town in France - far from the mansion in Provence they'd originally imagined. Their rickety home is falling down among them, their eccentric lonely neighbors won't leave them alone, and Freya's hospital stays are becoming frighteningly frequent. Anna must draw on reserves of strength she never knew she had just to keep going from day to day. But will it be enough to keep her family together?
Told with humor and warmth, The Mouse-Proof Kitchen is the moving and thought-provoking story of how the best parts of life are often the most complicated, and how love can be found in the least likely of places.
"Shah combines tragedy and humor into a satisfying tale of love, heartbreak, and transformation." - Publishers Weekly
"Although it follows a conventional makeover format, Shah's readable debut, drawn in part from personal experience, touches deeper, less predictable notes." - Kirkus
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Rated of 5
Mark B. (Jackson, MI)
Mouse Proof Kitchen
Being a special needs person, this book spoke to me as it gave a glimmer of memory to what my parents went through in raising me. I found the book easy to read and could relate to the struggles of the parents in raising a special needs child. The book will tug at your heart-strings as well as cause you to look at your own prejudices when encountering special needs people. I highly recommend the book for those who live with a special needs child or for those looking for a heart-tugging read.
Rated of 5
Nikki M. (Fort Wayne, IN)
This was much harder to read than I thought it would be. Very tough subject matter, especially if you know someone in a similar situation. I would recommend, but be prepared to shed a few tears...
Rated of 5
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)
This heart-tugging emotional story told in a memoir-like format is intimately introspective, brutally honest yet deliciously warm with dollops of life-affirming humor. The narrator is Anna, a chef who loves order and this is accomplished by planning out her life dreams. Her partner is Tobias, a charming musician who is more carefree in his approach to life. But they are soon in a spot that stops them in their tracks – daughter Freya is born with profound disabilities. Anna worries what if she does not love Freya enough; Tobias worries what if we do, while an impulse buy of run-down animal infested farmhouse further challenges the couple's past and future commitments. A glimpse into the healthcare systems of Britain and France and alternatives for disabled children was enlightening. This touching story of love, family, and loyalty is enhanced by a cast of eccentric secondary characters.
Rated of 5
Mary P. (Bellingham, WA)
Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its intelligent, idiosyncratic characters, and its descriptions of Provence. The main character, it can be argued as the plot and characters revolve around her, is Freya, the infant daughter of Anna and Tobias. Freya is born severely disabled; she will be child-like the rest of her life and require constant care. Her mother, a gourmet cook, had other plans--perfect child, perfect home, every detail dovetailed with another. How will she cope? How will her husband respond? They go ahead with their plans and relocate to Provence to perhaps start a restaurant or cooking school. But, like the plans for her family, life doesn't follow Anna's prescription for it. This book poses questions for a reader--how would I respond? What would I do with a situation that will not go away and can't be denied?
Shah infuses her book with love, caring, humor, and humility for all her characters, Anna, Tobias, Freya, Anna's mother, and the miscellaneous idiosyncratic people they attract.
Rated of 5
Karen L. (Chicago, IL)
The Mouse Proof KItchen
I really wanted to like this book. It covers so many subjects I generally enjoy reading about; the French Countryside, cooking, and relationships. Like Anna I anticipated perfection, only to be handed something different than planned. was not perfect, in fact severely disabled. I found this novel both unrealistic and heartbreaking. Unbelievably, They follow their original, pre-diagnosis plan and move to a rodent infested, decrepit home in the south of France. What could they be thinking raising a severely disabled child or really any child in such a potentially dangerous situation is beyond the scope of my imagination. While it did evoke many emotions, none of them was positive. I acknowledge it is a difficult subject and I applaud the author for her attempt at tackling it, I believe it will anger most audiences and therefore not appeal to the mass market.
Rated of 5
Beverly K. (Lockport, IL)
Strange title, fascinating story
Saira Shah's debut novel gives you a lot to think about-- how do we define unconditional love and does becoming a mother automatically make you feel unconditional love for your child, especially a challenging child. I found this book warm, touching and, at some points, difficult to read without crying. Ms. Shah paints beautiful, detailed descriptions of the couples remote home in France and the locals who grow to become such vital characters in the story. I found this book hard to put down.
Saira Shah has won three Emmys for her films Unholy War, Beneath the Veil, and Death in Gaza. She has also written an autobiography, The Storyteller's Daughter. Saira retired from filmmaking in 2003 and divides her time between the UK and France.
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