Ragi – Ragini: Chronicles From Aji’s Kitchen – Anjali Purohit
Genre: Foodie fiction, Indian, recipes
This is the story of Ragini, born as a premature, extremely weak baby, who was struggling to survive without her mother, who passed away in childbirth. Her determined grandmother, Aji, and her feisty aunt, Masi, take Ragini under their wings. Ragini is brought up in a little Konkan village, and she not only survives but blossoms. Ragi – Ragini is the story of Ragini’s growing up to a strong woman, from the woeful little baby that she was. Ragini’s story is interspersed with various recipes made out of ragi aka nachani aka finger millet, which seem to occupy a special place in the author’s heart. Couplets by the famed Marathi poetess of yore, Bahinabai, also find a place in the book – both in Marathi and translated into English.
I picked up this book because the story sounded old-fashioned and charming, but I ended up disappointed. The book underwhelmed me. The storyline is simple, yes, but the narration did not do anything to enhance it. The ragi recipes fascinated me a whole lot, though – I didn’t know there is so much to do with the grain. I am now dying to try out at least a few of the recipes outlined in the book. Clearly, ragi – the grain – occupies a huge place in the author’s heart. She speaks about it with a lot of love, as a humble, forgiving grain that can be used in a lot of different ways. The couplets by Bahinabai are charming, too – simple, but with truckloads of meaning in them.
This is not a book I would recommend for the storyline, homely as it is. I would tell you to read this book if you want to fall in love with the highly nutritious and versatile ragi. That, and for the simple beauties that Bahinabai’s couplets are.
Too Many Cooks – Dana Bate
Genre: Foodie fiction, recipes, chick-lit
Kelly Madigan seems to have it all – a unique but satisfactory job as a cookbook ghostwriter and a handsome boyfriend, who is a doctor who earns handsomely, too. She is nonplussed when her mother leaves her a letter with a few death-bed wishes, one of them asking her to take chances, to get out of her comfort zone. So, when she gets a chance to work as cookbook ghostwriter for Natasha Spencer – THE movie star, wife of a dishy and promising English politician – she hesitatingly takes up the opportunity. The job requires her to leave USA, her current residence, and move to London, leaving her boyfriend behind too, but she still goes on and takes it up. Maybe this is what her mother meant by taking chances? Too Many Cooks is the story of Kelly Madigan, about what happens when she begins work with Natasha and meets the dishy politician.
Sadly, in spite of the interesting premise, the book disappointed. The book started out on a high note for me – I was just beginning to love Kelly in all her quirkiness when she met Natasha and Hugh, and the story started going downhill. Kelly started to seem dumber and dumber then, in spite of being the intelligent, talented and original person that she was initially. I kept reading on just because I wanted to find out how the story ended – and, actually, I liked the ending that the author has chosen to give the story. I wish the middle part of the story had been treated differently. There were a few loopholes in the plot, too, but I will refrain from talking about them here because that would mean giving the story away.
I liked the way the author has painted the characters of this book, anecdote after anecdote from their lives telling the reader all about who they really are. The story is somewhat similar to The Devil Wears Prada, but I still liked the way the author has handled it. I loved the descriptions of the food – they made me want to cook! I liked how the author gave me a peek into the life of a ghostwriter and that of a celebrity.
All in all, this is a pleasant read, one that you can reach for when you need chick-lit and don’t expect it to be different.
Dana Bates’ other books have interesting storylines too, and I would definitely like to give them a chance. The author sure has potential!
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.
Have you read either of these books or both? What are your thoughts about them?
What are you reading at the moment?