Thursday, 17 May 2012

Book Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Well, technically this isn’t the correct name for the novel. It’s official title is ‘These Foolish Things’ but I didn’t know that when I saw it on the bookshelf at Watestones. I for one am not a fan of books with movie covers, so I approached the sales assistant to ask if they had another copy and they said no. I thought that was rather odd, but I really wanted to read the book so I took it home anyway, telling myself that I sincerely doubted it would be a life classic which I’d like to have an aesthetic value equal to its content, therefore the cover didn’t much matter. 
Well, technically I was right but that doesn’t distract from the fact that it is a very enjoyable read! Again, like the Descendants, I was pleasantly surprised with how it was written and how easily it made me laugh. This is a chuckle novel especially at the beginning. So what is it about?
Well, we first meet Ravi, a British Indian doctor and his wife, Pauline, whom have been landed, to Ravi’s displeasure, with Pauline’s father, Norman. Norman is what one would call ‘a dirty old man’, but he’s utterly hilarious for being whom he is, however, due to his character, he has been kicked out of so many retirement homes that now his daughter and son in law have to carry the burden. One evening, whilst complaining about his father in law to his cousin Sonny, Ravi inspires an entrepreneurial idea: a retirement home in India.
Thus the story is established. The novel skips back and forth between all the different lives of the pensioners in Britain who eventually all unite at ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ for differing reasons. A couple of the stories are rather heartbreaking, especially that of Muriel (I would be rather surprised if you did not, after reading the events that happen to her in Britain, hold a small silence of respect and reflection). We can’t escape the nagging in our heads about old age; either we know someone who is going through this, the worries knowing our parents will go through this, the tension knowing that we shall go through this, and let’s be honest, it’s not a time of life we associate with pleasure and happiness. Moggach doesn’t deflect from that concept, but it’s realistically challenged; why should it be viewed so badly? We don’t we just make the most of it closer to the end? the inevitable can’t be changed, so why should we carry on confining to the norm, living the same life we did day in and out we have until this moment? Spontaneity isn’t limited to the youth, to the childless, and once we pick one path in life we aren’t chained to it, and Moggach shows us that. It was a an extremely entertaining novel, though I was left feeling I’d been left behind at the end of the novel, like everyone had started a life without me and I was stuck here; an irony emphasised even more-so by the huge age difference between myself and the characters, but that was what made the novel successful - I was left feeling like I was missing out on what the elderly had attained. Now that is an accomplishment when writing about old age, so Moggach, I salute you. ★★★★

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