The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: Ravi's father-in-law, Norman, causes him no end of problems especially as he keeps being thrown out of care homes because of his bad behaviour. Therefore when Ravi's cousin Sonny comes up with an idea, it could be the answer to his problems and also appeal to many other elderly people who are fed up with the life facing pensioners in Britain. Can they, along with Norman, be persuaded to up sticks and move to a new home in a new continent?
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099572022

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When Ravi and his cousin Sonny decide to open the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Bangalore as a retirement home, they don't know whether they will get any takers. However, by advertising it as a newly restored palatial hotel that will provide a life of leisure, good weather and mango gin, they soon get a great deal of interest and are welcoming their new residents. Evelyn, Madge, Dorothy, Norman and all of the others who decide to move to the hotel have their own reasons for leaving Britain but they are all excited by the new opportunity and the lease of new life that it could provide.

It doesn't take long before the residents realise that things are not quite as they were advertised. The hotel is in a crumbling state, the staff are temperamental and the resident nurse seems to have more than a passing interest in feet. However, it does not take long before the hotel starts to feel like home and lifelong friendships are forged. Sadly though, most of the guests have their own worries and problems so luckily they start to form a support network which is more than they ever had with their families at home.

On the whole, I did enjoy this book although it wasn't what I expected and there were one or two aspects that I found a bit disappointing. I really thought that with such an odd assortment of fairly eccentric characters all living in close proximity in a slightly run down establishment, that it would be funnier than it is. It is more poignant than funny which is not exactly what the write-ups on the back cover would have you believe. Also I was hoping that there would be more of a flavour of India coming through every page and especially the characters' reactions to the culture and the climate. You do get a little of this but not enough for my liking. Also, for me, books are all about characters, and although there were an interesting eclectic mix, I did not really feel as if I got to know them very well. In fact, I kept getting them muddled up and forgetting their background stories.

Having said that though, overall this is a gentle and enjoyable read. I liked the idea of these elderly people making a new life in India and forming a new community. The theme of support and friendship came through particularly well and I did think that the characters were quite reflective of different types in society. There is a sadness to the story though and it feels a pretty poor indictment of society that the elderly are not able to be looked after by their own families for various reasons.

If you have read other books by Deborah Moggah, the storyline may sound familiar. This is because the book was previously published as 'These Foolish Things'.

Why not also take a look at The Idea of Love by Louise Dean which is another story about people living abroad.

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Buy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach at


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