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Mouse-Proof Kitchen [Hardcover]

Saira Shah

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More About the Author

Saira Shah is an award-winning writer, war reporter and documentary film-maker whose work includes the films 'Beneath the Veil' and 'Death in Gaza'. Her daughter, Ailsa, has severe cerebral palsy.

Product Description

Helping the ATF track down a cache of illegal guns near the Canadian border, millionaire and former detective Rushmore McKenzie reluctantly infiltrates a gang of elusive gunrunners only to find his life on the line when the plan goes dangerously wrong. By the Edgar Award-winning author of "Curse of the Jade Lily".

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Mouse-Proof Kitchen 11 July 2013
By Patrice Hoffman - Published on Amazon.com
I usually have a lot to say or at least general points I like to mention in reviews but this time I feel so all over the place with this novel... I really don't know what to say or how to begin.

The novel begins with Anna and Tobias welcoming their daughter Freya into the world. Right from the beginning it's obvious that there's something wrong with her. While in the ICU of a an English hospital, they are given a vague diagnosis that their child is severely disabled. They at once begin to loathe this child and how she will ruin their perfectly made plans. One of these plans includes moving to France where Anna can open a restaurant and Tobias to practice his music thing.

Eventually they buy possibly the most dilapidated house in all of France. A house full of mice, bugs, dirt, structural issues, and a plethora of other things that a good home inspection would have requested this house to be condemned. For some obscene reason these parents think that a disabled child can be raised in such a mess since there's always the option of... you know what.

I've felt every sort of emotional imaginable towards Anna and her invisible husband Tobias through much of the novel. The most vivid emotion I remember feeling is anger. But then again I have no children, I have no idea what I'd do or how I'd react if the child I birthed were severely disabled. There bitching and moaning didn't help with my feelings towards them.

Saira Shah writes an emotion-packed debut novel that at times I felt I shouldn't be reading because of it's honesty. I really felt that I was let in on a secret that I shouldn't know and now I can't unknow it. This novel is well written and will cause readers to laugh, cry, boil over in anger, and also count the blessings that they do have. Of course there's no way to truly mouse-proof a kitchen but that's no reason not to see the beauty in the moments filled with rodents.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different and thought-provoking - 4.5/5 stars 31 July 2013
By My2Cents - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I have to confess, it was the title that made me curious about this book, but I never would have expected to be reading a book that touched so many different emotional responses from me. This book made me angry and sad one minute and smiling and even laughing the next. I read it pretty slow, as I was in some ways afraid to get to the end. Here's why ---

As the story begins Anna, 38 in labor at a London hospital, expecting her first baby. Her husband Tobias arrives while she is already in labor (to myself I'm calling him a jerk already). Anna, is a planner who loves to control what happens in her life, even if that is not always possible. She and Tobias have already discussed moving to Provence once their baby is born, so that their child can be raised in a quaint, peaceful place. Anna is a chef and she is already hoping to open a restaurant in Provence as well. Tobias is more of a fly-by-the-seat of your pants kind of guy; he is a musician and film writer.

When Baby Freya, arrives into the world, it's by an emergency C-section after some heart-rate problems are detected. When she has a seizure right after birth, it is clear she has some issues. MRI's and testing reveal her brain has not developed normally, and has a condition called: Polymicrogyria. She will be severely limited for as long as she lives and her life expectancy is unknown. Her frequent seizures could end her life at anytime. Anna and Tobias are devastated and after learning more details about her daughter's condition, they even consider abandoning Freya and moving on with their lives. They fear that they will be unable to love and care for Freya, believing they could never handle all that responsibility required of someone who is raising a disable child.

Convinced to take their daughter home, even briefly, the couple move to an isolated town in France. To add more chaos to their already stressful lives, they decide to make a rodent-infested, rundown, crumbling, farmhouse home [ I'm picturing a French version of the place in Under the Tuscan Sun]. Anna's obsession with order and control at times serves to shift her focus from her disabled baby to trying to "mouse-proof" her kitchen.

The chapters in this story are the months of the year beginning with the month that Freya was born. There is a quirky cast of characters, each of whom in some way serves to help, or even sometimes distract Anna from the constant pressure and ever-present anxiety that the couple faces 24-7. Anna's annoying mother, was someone who made me especially angry when she came to visit - she is totally self-absorbed, yet, there were a few occasions that she surprised me in a pleasant way as well.

As you can imagine, this book has some gut wrenching moments. How hard it must be to allow yourself to love a very sick baby, never knowing whether it will be taken away from you tomorrow. I was surprised to read that this story, at least in part, was inspired by the personal experience of the author.The Mouse-Proof Kitchen is an incredibly touching story. It is one of those books that would make for a great book club discussion. It reminded me how our some of biggest challenges in life, are usually the things that made us a better, and stronger person in the end.

Very well done - Read it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There is no mouse-proof kitchen 14 July 2013
By Debnance at Readerbuzz - Published on Amazon.com
Anna and her husband Tobias eagerly anticipate the arrival of their first child. When Freya is born, the parents learn she will never develop the way most children do, that she will live a short and difficult life. Anna and Tobias, nevertheless, buy an old home in France and decide to take each day as it comes with Freya.

I suspect this is a very honest look at the anxieties and pain and burdens and resentment and, yes, deep love that comes with having a child who doesn't grow and change as expected. It's a beautiful story of the way regular people try to face, then shirk, then try to face again enormous, lonely, and unexpected responsibilities, full of the frustrations and anger and joy that these responsibilities bring.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "She's come to earth to evoke emotion, particularly love." 2 Sep 2013
By Amelia Gremelspacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This novel is a deeply affecting story of Freya who has come into the world with profound neurological disabilities. The birth of the imperfect child, especially one profoundly ill, marks a point of grief for the old life and a deep mourning for old dreams. Anna and Tobias are soon forced to understand the cruel division of loving their child, but knowing they will lose her prematurely. Through the book they take in turn their attempts to deny the bond. In a brash effort, they take move to a ruined manse in France in order to pursue the dreams that remain. Obviously, one goal is a mouse proof kitchen that will never come true.

The author notes that while the book is fiction, the child is based on her own child. The parents in the book are a world different than she and her partner, yet each approach is a struggle to deal with this most difficult of blessings. As Anna's mother says, "You can't cheat fate." These characters make some choices that wouldn't be my choices, but they are choices motivated by their fear of a love that will most certainly break their hearts. Their parallel efforts with their home provide a great metaphor for the rest of their lives, and they happen to be amusing and interesting. I found this book to be a love story, but not a fairy tale one, a real life love story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for an airplane ride! 17 Jan 2014
By Katharine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A friend recommended this book so I ordered it and ended up reading it in almost one sitting. It is a quick read, nothing too substantial to make me feel like I needed to slow down or go back and look something up from an earlier chapter. It certainly did hold my attention well enough. It would be a great book for a long plane ride!
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