Mouseproof Kitchen, The

Shah, Saira

  4 Reviews

It's almost a cliche: English couple with a young baby buy a dilapidated farmhouse and up sticks to a new and enviable life in rural France. There's the dream, and there is the reality ... For Anna and Tobias, the dream is even more challenging as their daughter Freya is profoundly disabled. Determined to stick to the plan, they embark on life in the Languedoc with a supporting cast of eccentric characters and a ridiculous number of rodents.

Although light in style and easy to read, this is a life-affirming story with satisfying and thought-provoking depth from an author writing from personal experience.

Comments from Groups

This book was enthusiastically received by all but one member, and generated much discussion. The dissenting voice was annoyed by some of the characters, but she enjoyed the French setting. In general, we appreciated learning more about the difficulties faced by parents of a profoundly handicapped baby, from such an authentic voice. Havelock North 008

We all enjoyed the book. An easy read, but a difficult subject with the problems of Freya. We discussed the difficulties of having a disabled child, and felt that Tobias was not much help to Anna. We couldn't imagine living in such a run down place with a baby, and as for the vermin!! The sadness was made up for by the great descriptions of the amazing countryside. We gave it 8/10. Masterton 013

Much discussion had on how each of us would cope in such a situation, and what the future would hold for this family. Some of us found we got rather bogged down in the central characters' misery - it felt weighty and repetitive. But then we reflected that it was probably meant to. Martinborough 003

A good read and well written. It brought up a lot of maternal feelings of love, care and disabilities in our families. Quite a few tears at our discussion. No one found any humour in the story, but the honesty and strength of strangers shone through. Auckland 271

Having a baby with profound disabilities is a subject few writers of fiction have tackled, and we applaud Saira Shah for having done so. However, having said that, we felt that she created so many difficulties for her heroine with the move to France, a disturbed sitting tenant on the run down property, a rodent plague, a hippy neighbour, and a mother who was less than helpful, plus a sub-plot involving Resistance fighters from the war, made the story confused, and diluted the very real issue of the baby's impact on her and her husband. The writing was clear, and some of the descriptions of the countryside almost lyrical. Motherhood, in its many forms. could the theme of the book, with Anna, her own mother, and Lizzy's mother all displaying different approaches to the role. We found this an interesting book, but felt like it was more like three books than one. Christchurch 058



Some thought the story just went round and round . Everyone found it difficult to understand the husbands character. Having to face this situation would be very difficult. We all took part in interesting discussion.
NELS 064
This book was a good read. Most of the group enjoyed it and found the themes conversational. Many will look for other books by this author.
A thought provoking book which generated a great discussion about the expectations of motherhood and explored different relationships.
ASHB 016
We all enjoyed this book. Lots of discussion because we are all mothers and how we would've coped, and if we would even have attempted something this like this. Great story and very well written.