I was first attracted to this book by the rich, food orientated cover. I love novels based on gastronomic adventures, and when I read the back cover I realised I had to have this book as it was also set in my homeland, Ireland.
The premise of the book is that three beautiful sisters move to a small Irish town and decide to share there passion for cooking with the locals. They decide to open a bistro and serve the traditional Persian food they so love with the initially friendly and warm hearted townspeople.
The premise of the book is familiar, but the writing style is almost luxurious in the descriptions of the food and situations, and makes even the smallest incident a fascinating read.
I found it interesting that the author had chose to make the three main characters from such an unpopular country as Iran, but it works well in showing the beauty of a country that otherwise might be known only for the arms race.
However I do think that the author painted many of the Irish characters as almost stereotypical lovable but simple uncultured country folk. There is the impossible to miss priest, and the puritanical Irish housewife. The prejudice born against the sisters by both housewife Dervla and businessman Thomas comes across as racism, and does not give much depth or humanity to these characters.
The book is actually set in 1986, the year I was born. Despite this the author does not go overboard on throwing in cultural references from the time.
If you enjoyed Chocolat then I would recommend trying this book, as the author has a similar writing style to Joanne Harris, and the mouth watering beauty of the food is described in similarly lavish tones.
Despite some drawbacks in the characterisation in this book, the lavish way the food is described definitely goes a long way towards making up for this. The book is magical in some of the pictures and smells it manages to conjure up, and the book avoids the trap of becoming backward looking and thereby bitter and depressing, but instead revels in the seductive nature of humanity and the adaptability of even the most stubborn person.