“We all moved in a constant celestial dance. The song ends and the music and our partner may change, but in order to survive we must continue dancing.”
Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.
At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.
The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along. (Goodreads)
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim is the ultimate feel-good, fun and charming read you didn’t know you needed. It fills up the heart like a big bowl of arroz caldo–a Filipino dish described in the book as “golden, warm, and comforting.” As a Filipina I can vouch for the accuracy of this 👍🏻 This book satisfied all of my senses–I swear I can hear all the cooking and chopping sounds, my nose twitched at the fragrant smells, I can almost taste the yummy dishes and hear the accompaniment of sophisticated vintage music.
“Such was the vulnerability of grief: every act of concern was felt more deeply, for the path to the heart was clear.”
The story begins strongly with the death of Natalie’s mom. She will then embark on a journey to reconcile her past before she can secure her future. I did not expect that there will be magical realism involved in the storytelling, and it is such a pleasant surprise. I love the subtle magical elements. It is somehow reminiscent of my two other favorites “Like Water for Chocolate” and “Chocolat”. Though I thought some of the conversations were a bit stilted, it’s all very forgivable and even adds to the charm.
“Success tasted better than a plump char siu bao right out of the steamer.”
“My future boyfriend will know soon enough that food is my husband and he’s the mistress.”
“Marinate for three hours to encourage new love and six hours to rekindle a love gone sour.”
Obviously, I love the use of food to describe anything and everything!!! Food is definitely at the heart of this book. It even includes real recipes not only meant to fill the stomach, but to also nourish the soul. It successfully executes the concept of magic in food being as simple as the “enchantment” of the cook’s intention.
“I was torn between these or hydrangeas. I wanted something big, lots of petals: what a cloud would look like in flower form. You can imagine how the florist reacted when I described it.” His sheepish grin caused me to smile. “Why clouds?” I asked. “Because you belong in the sky among the stars.”
The novel has one of the sweetest romance ever–it’s certainly worth the read just to experience all the cute moments between Natalie and the geek hottie Daniel. However for me I just love how the soul of the story is still about the community and rejuvenating the old Chinatown. It’s all about building communities and embracing your culture. I’m all for modernization and moving forward with time, but preserving culture and heritage is of utmost importance if we don’t want to lose our sense of identity and belonging.
“The community derived its strength from being whole.”
The story also employed a sensitive portrayal towards mental health, and how a change of perspective is always necessary to understanding any type of mental illness. Sometimes it’s so deeply ingrained in our culture to dismiss the condition as intangible hence insignificant. A cultural approach to mental health is definitely a topic worth examining further.
“Food possessed the remarkable ability to heal and bring people together.”
The quote above quite sums up the book for me. I couldn’t agree with it more. I should also mention I enjoyed reading this book so much that I created a Pinterest board filled with all the sights, sounds, tastes and feels I got from it. There are, of course, LOTS of delicious food included. Click the photo below if you want to see more photos from the board. If you feel hungry after browsing it, don’t say I didn’t warn you 🤤💕
Overall Rating: 4/5
About the Author
Roselle Lim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada as a child. She lived in north Scarborough in a diverse, Asian neighbourhood.
She found her love of writing by listening to her lola (paternal grandmother’s) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels.
An artist by nature, she considers writing as “painting with words.”
Follow Roselle in Goodreads.
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Berkley Books
ISBN 1984803255 (ISBN13: 9781984803252)
Edition language English
Genres: Romance | Contemporary | Fiction | Adult
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My heartfelt thanks to Raf of The Royal Polar Bear Reads for his kindness and for giving me the opportunity to join this international blog tour.
Don’t forget to follow the blog tour schedule and I hope you discover more blogs to love! 💕
Rafael of The Royal Polar Bear Reads
Aleks of Mind of Luxe
Jessica of Endless Chapters
Pragati of The Inked In Book Blog
Myrth of Tales Past Midnight
Erica of Living a Hundred Lives
Gerald of Gerald The Bookworm
Shaine of Wanderer in Neverland
Kat of Reading After Ten
Shaa of Moonlight Pages
Beatrice of Confessions of a Pinay Bookaholic
Kat H of Novels & Waffles
Jen of Jen D Bibliophile
Rain of bookdragonism
Princess of Princess and Pages
Samantha of We Live and Breathe Books
Fatina of The Infinity Words
Naadhira of Legendbooksdary
Cherry of Tale Out Loud