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The Last Chinese Chef

by: Nicole Mones

Boston MA: A Mariner Book, Houghton Mifflin Company 2007, $13.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-547-0537308

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(2) page(s): 26

This engrossing book is hard to put down even for a bathroom break. It is about man’s Chinese feast, is a perfect and exciting read, a wise and a romantic plot about Chinese food culture by an American food writer who did live in Beijing.

It begins with a lady going to China to settle a claim about her late husband. She learns he may have lived a double life. Her editor assigns her to profile Sam, a 45 half- Chinese American chef with a history going back to the Imperial Palace, and with his lifetime of food glimpsing through every Chinese civilization. There are lessons of Chinese tradition, obligation, and human connections to heal her heart, and it can do likewise for yours as you delve into all lives.

This romantic plot and page-turner, is exciting, and a wise feast for the heart. The Wall Street Journal calls it “delicious,” the Seattle Times “engrossing” and this magazine says “do not miss a single page about the Chinaphiles who began working there in 1977”.

Mones wrote two very successful novels before this one, both about China. She lived there while so doing, and was a frequent contributor to Gourmet magazine and other non-literary venues. This, her not-to-be-missed novel, clips and rips one’s heart as it makes you read faster than you might like yet wanting to stay with her forever. A solution, read it twice; we did!

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