Genre: Women's Fiction

Friday, July 19, 2019

So Much Food and Softness: Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune by Roselle Lim

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I received this book for free from Berkley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

So Much Food and Softness: Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune by Roselle LimNatalie Tan's Book of Fortune by Roselle Lim
Published by Berkley on June 11th, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Source: Berkley
Buy on Amazon

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.

Here is the thing about Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune, it is sweet with a dash of magic and an incredible amount of food porn. For those reasons, I was immediately drawn in and enjoyed the book. But, the writing is not quite there so even though the story itself is wonderful, the way it is written and told isn’t? 

First things first, this book is not a romance for those romance readers eyeing this book. It is a story about love but not necessarily romantic love. 

Natalie Tan comes home for the first time in years after her mother passes away. They parted on bad terms and Natalie never got to bridge the gap that emerged between the two. A letter her ma-ma left behind for her imparts her blessings to reopen her laolao’s restaurant and finally reclaim their family legacy. Opening a restaurant is never easy but factor in a dying neighborhood, desperately counting on her restaurant to bring in more business into the area and Natalie has her hands incredibly full. 

When a well-meaning neighbor prophecizes that the restaurant’s success is rooted in Natalie’s ability to help three neighbors through her food, she gets to work and reconnects with a neighborhood she didn’t realize she loved. 

One of the things that stuck out to me was that there while there was a plot there wasn’t really much conflict? Which is to say that there was conflict but it wasn’t really creating tension within the book. Yes Natalie’s recipe’s aren’t working which is cause for concern but there are a lot of other plot points resolved without truly exploring them. At the beginning of the book, I got the sense Natalie definitely resented her ma-ma a little but by the end of the book that is brushed under the rug and their relationship is presented as perfect could be. At another point, Natalie fights with a friend and it is quickly resolved. 

There were other issues with the writing too but at the end of the day, they didn’t truly take away from my enjoyment of the book. Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune is a very soft book and sometimes you need a soft book to breeze through. 

This story of a grief-stricken girl rediscovering her love for her neighborhood, pursuing her dreams, and trying to heal people through food will appeal to many and leave all feeling incredibly hungry. I highly recommend Natalie Tan’s Book of Fortune to anyone who appreciates good food porn and anyone looking for a soft book full of magic. 


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