Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune (Paperback)
This book is a feel-good story--and a feel-hungry story, too! I loved the descriptions of food and the magic Roselle Lim delivers from start to finish. This needs to be in everyone’s beach bag this summer! --Beth— Beth
Family is tough.
That is the exact opening line of my last review, too (which was Searching for Sylvie Lee, BTW).
The thing about Natalie's bio fam, though, is that they're not there to converse with her. The reason she's returned home is to settle her mother's affairs. Her dad left before she was born. Her grandmother died not long after her mother married. And her grandfather went back to China before her mom was born. So out of this cycle of leaving, which Natalie has done as well, it falls on Natalie to return. What's more, the prophetess says in her success or failure to reopen her grandmother's restaurant lies also the rise or fall of the small Chinatown neighborhood. And a perky blond real estate developer is waiting to pick up the pieces if she fails.
So Natalie's story is of the family you build, the neighbors struggling to hold on against gentrification, to come together without killing each other in the process. And what is a better unifier of a community than the best Chinese food in town?
(The best Chinese food in our area, IMHO, is at Sampan in Winston-Salem NC. which has a lushly illustrated “authentic” menu in addition to the standard American Chinese faire. Try the pi pa tofu!)
(But if you want dim sum… ask me about Hong Kong Chinese in Durham.)
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.
About the Author
Roselle Lim is a Filipino-Chinese writer living on the north shore of Lake Erie. She loves to write about food and magic. When she isn't writing, she is sewing, sketching, or pursuing the next craft project.
Praise for Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune
“Lim serves up love, loss, heritage, and hints of the supernatural on a silver platter in this magical and mouthwatering debut...This eminently filmable tale of finding one’s own path while honoring one’s history is delicious and spellbinding.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Sprinkled with real recipes and hints of magic realism throughout, this tale of homecoming makes for a light bite to satiate yourself with.”—Vogue (HK)
“Vivid and lyrical with a touch of magic. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune explores culture, community, and the complex love between mothers and daughters, leaving your heart full…and your belly hungry. I absolutely loved it.”—Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
“Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune is for every reader who likes a side of magic with their foodie fiction. You’ll want to move into the Chinatown neighborhood for the mouth-watering dumplings and the charming, eclectic neighbors. Exquisitely written, Roselle Lim sifts through the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, the freedom in unraveling family secrets, and the power of resilience.”—Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go
“Roselle Lim serves up a feast for the senses and the heart with this magical tale of love, loss, and redemption in San Francisco's Chinatown. Filled with luscious, mouth-watering recipes, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune explores the hidden ties of family, mental illness, and desires lost and found, through the delectably transformative power of food. I had to stop myself from running out to buy juicy roast pork, plump crispy dumplings, and sweet pea sprouts!”—Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghost Bride and The Night Tiger
“A truly delicious page-turner, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune is a magical feast for the mind, the heart, and the senses. With mouth-watering prose, crystallized characters, and a healthy dash of magic, Lim has created the perfect recipe for a truly delicious page-turner. I devoured this book. Sign me up for seconds!”—Samantha Verant, author of How to Make a French Family
“What a treat! Reminiscent of Joanne Harris’s bestselling novel, Chocolat, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune is heaped with heart and topped with the sweetest sprinkle of magic, creating a literary and culinary feast. Infused with ancient traditions and tantalizing recipes, Roselle Lim cooks up a mouth-watering tale that’s sure to delight!”—Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List
“Loss, homecoming, romance, recipes, and magic mingle in this debut novel....the book is distinguished by the love Lim shows the neighborhood, the characters, and the food.”—Kirkus Reviews
“For those beachgoers who love the magic of summertime and new beginnings, there is a book coming out soon that is simply meant for you—Roselle Lim's Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune.”—Elite Daily
“Summer beckons a reading list that is as light, fun and feel-good as the season itself. Roselle Lim’s Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune definitely fits that need. … Lim’s magical storytelling, excellent cast of supporting characters and mouth-watering recipes make this book a must for your summer reading list.”—BookPage
“A smashing debut that will leave readers hungry for more.”—Fresh Fiction
“When you read this book, you can feel the love of culture and food within its pages. More importantly, you can see how entangled food, culture, and family can become. It’s a book about how food can bring people together, but also drive them apart. Filled with lush, lyrical writing, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is the kind of book that’ll fill you with warmth, and make you extremely hungry.”—BookRiot