Just Read

French Milk – Lucy Knisley

I read Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life In The Kitchen last year and quite enjoyed it. It is one of the very few graphic books I have read. When I got to know about another of the author’s graphic books, French Milk, I wanted to read it immediately. The in-house Santa complied with my wishes, and I recently received the book as a part of my birthday gift. I finished reading it in a day – flat! Sadly, it turned out to be an utter disappointment.

French Milk can be considered as a food-cum-travel memoir, in the graphic form. It is a graphic journal detailing all that the author and her mother did when they visited Paris for a month, on a holiday, when she was an adolescent. Many readers have told me that this book is the best by the author, that it speaks of mother-daughter bonding in a very beautiful way, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. The author came across as a whiny, spoilt brat, smoking and drinking and shopping all the time, missing the boyfriend that she had left back at home. Yes, the mother and daughter did visit some lovely places and buy some gorgeous things, which made me crave to visit Paris, too. Beyond that, though, the book seemed to lack any depth. It reminded me of the days Amma and me used to spend exploring Ahmedabad, but I didn’t see any real mother-daughter bonding happening. The travel part of the book is good, but it  is not a great memoir, in my humble opinion. That made the book only an average read for me, in spite of the rather high expectations with which I picked it up. Of course, that could be just me! So, don’t hesitate to give this book a try if you love the genre – you might be surprised!

The Caliph’s House – Tahir Shah

I had been wanting to read Tahir Shah’s The Caliph’s House for the longest time ever. I finally got my hands on an e-copy recently, at a bargain price, much to my glee. The book didn’t disappoint totally, but it wasn’t a great read either.

The Caliph’s House is about the author’s (mis)adventures in Morocco, where he buys a house on what seems like a whim and takes his family to. The house, called the Caliph’s house or Dar Khalifa, is a beautiful, sprawling property, but there seem to be many problems therein. First of all, there are the jinns. Then, there is the huge task of getting a series of never-ending renovations done. Then, there’s the task of adjusting to the local customs and traditions, and learning to make a place in the hearts of the locals. All of this made for an interesting read, for sure. Tahir Shah is witty and humorous, and I enjoyed reading the book.

That said, the book seemed to lack depth. The author seemed to have no real interest in learning about the customs of the people living alongside him, in the same area. He seemed to do a bit of sight-seeing, but that too looked as if done without any love. His decision to move to Morocco too seems hurried, without a detailed thought process behind it. His wife and two young children seemed to face so many hassles because of this hasty decision, and the wife’s opinion seems to have hardly been considered. But then, to each his own. I don’t have any right to go judging the author’s life decisions!

This book falls into the liked-it-but-didn’t-really-love-it genre for me. Maybe you’d like it more than I did?

Have you read any/both of these books? What did you think about it/them?

What are you reading at the moment?

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