The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing by Andrew Sharp
|The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing by Andrew Sharp
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: A story of past traumas, buried memories, friendship and love, told from the perspective of a truly engaging character and full of vivid descriptions of the African bush and the busy but impersonal bustle of London.
|Date: July 2021
Chef Mlantushi - Mozzy to his employer - is, in his mind, the head chef of a safari business catering to VIP guests in an unnamed African country. Mozzy is earnest and dedicated to his task and he puts all of himself into creating fine cuisine dishes for the guests at BOD-W safaris but his dream is to become the head chef of a restaurant in London or a big American city. Even to win a Michelin star. He is thwarted in this ambition by his boss, Mr Bin (Ben to you and me) who incurs Mozzy's disapproval for his scruffy ways, his uninterest in his guests and - shock, horror - his allowing of bush animals into the house.
In truth, BOD-W safaris is a ramshackle enterprise, the house dilapidated and the guests rare. But Bin and Mozzy trundle along in relatively amiable bickering, and Mozzy rubs along with his wife, Dorothea, even though he is somewhat circumspect of her involvement in the evangelical sect, The Divine Prosperity Assembly. It makes Dorothea happy to think of the blessings her commitment to this prosperity ministry will inevitably bring her.
But then the safari gets two new guests who will set in motion a train of events that will change everything for everyone. Miss Camlyn arrives, bringing with her her grandfather Mr Summerberg who is determined to record the song of a rare and endangered bird before he dies so that it can be played at his funeral.
Why and how does a particular birdsong bring renewal and change? You'll have to read The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing to find out. And I recommend that you do. It's a lovely book and one of a kind, with the sweet but uptight voice of Mozzy to guide you along.
I loved Mozzy. My grandmother would have said that one has champagne tastes and beer money but you can't help admiring the vast scope of his ambition, his scrupulous good manners and his ability to reflect. A lot happens to him over the course of the novel - he goes all the way to London in search of his dream, but it's home where he's going to find it and that is his journey. I loved his (snotty!) descriptions of Mr Bin and his lazy, standoffish ways, and the way that he looks after him nonetheless.
I don't want to give too much away but this is a story of past traumas, buried memories, friendship and love, told from the perspective of a truly engaging character and full of vivid descriptions of the African bush and the busy but impersonal bustle of London. I found it enchanting and read it in just one sitting. You won't read anything else like it this year, I promise.
And don't forget to listen to birdsong. One day it might work a miracle for you, too.
You can read more about Andrew Sharp here.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing by Andrew Sharp at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing by Andrew Sharp at Amazon.com.
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