Baking Cakes In Kigali – Gaile Parkin
Genre: Fiction, chick-lit
Angel Tungaraza, who lives in Rwanda, is a grandmother, a survivor and a home baker. She has gone through a lot in her life, and has seen a lot happening in her beloved Africa, not all good things. She bakes because she loves baking, and it is a means of supporting her family. Her cakes taste delicious, and have become the talk of the town. Baking Cakes In Kigali is the story of Angel, her family, her cakes and all that they lead her to.
I have mixed feelings about this book. This was my first Gaile Parkin book, and while I enjoyed its simplicity and certain charming moments in it, I didn’t like certain other things. I loved Angel, with all her flaws, and her fluctuating moral compass. I liked the descriptions of Angel’s cakes, and I liked how the author has subtly used that as an indicator of Africa’s overall financial state. The book served as an eye-opener, for me, as regards Africa and all that the continent has been through. I liked how the book makes for a light read, but talks about serious topics like genocide, poverty, AIDS, and female genital mutilation. What I didn’t like in the book is the way Angel acts when her moral compass is oscillating, and the way she laughs at the plight of some of the characters in the book. I also didn’t like how ‘whites’ and ‘outsiders’ are depicted.
I loved the ending of the book, though, where Angel seems to make peace with the wars waging inside her.
The book reminded me of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which I didn’t like at all. If you are a fan of the series, you will like this book too, I think.
However, I leave it up to you to try this one out and find out how much you like it.
The One Plus One – Jojo Moyes
Genre: Chick-lit, fiction
Jessica has always had a tough life, which has gotten even tougher of late. She has lost one of her cleaning jobs, and is finding it tougher than she always does to make ends meet. Her daughter, a Maths genius, has gotten a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which has the potential to change her life the good way, but Jessica is finding it almost impossible to even let her take up this opportunity. What’s more, her stepson, who lives with her, is being bullied at school and is on the verge of dropping out, becoming a smoker, drug abuser and a recluse. Sounds grim? Well, that is how Jessica’s life is, the heroine of Jojo Moyes’ The One Plus One.
While Jessica is fighting it out, Ed is having problems of his own. He has made a big mistake at work without even knowing he has made it, and is on the verge of losing everything he ever loved – his gorgeous car, his company, and his beautiful home.
Ed and Jessica meet, but to know under what circumstances and what happens after that, you have to read the book!
I was utterly disappointed by this book, though. The storyline was so unrealistic, most events so far removed from real life as to be unbelievable. The author has done a great job of developing the characters, though – I loved the way she has brought out the little nuances of each character, like the way one fiddles with her hair, for instance. The story is totally out of a Bollywood movie, however, and a highly commercial one at that. The humour in the book, the writing too, seems forced, as if the book was written in a hurry, just for the sake of being written. The book does have its charming moments, but they are few and far between.
I had a hard time believing that this book was the very same author of brilliant books like The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You! This one is utterly forgettable, something you can safely skip, I think.
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts about them?
What are you reading at the moment?