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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully quirky
Nutmeg is a breath of fresh air - completely different from any book I've read lately. It's the story of Meg, who is trying to find out the truth about her origins, but whose mother thwarts her at every turn with a string of impossible fairytale answers. Meg's father was, apparently, the most wonderful French pastry chef who fell in love with her mother in a cherry...
Published on 3 May 2012 by Sukie

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I came out a little under done"
Meg has a mother with the most extraordinary imagination.

In her childhood Meg believed her mother's flights of fantasy were true, but around age 11 disillusionment set in and instead Meg decided her mum was telling her lies. Meg turned to studying science with a passion, she craved reliable cold hard facts. Not stories of runner beans running around the...
Published on 19 May 2012 by elsie purdon


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully quirky, 3 May 2012
By 
Sukie (South Coast) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Paperback)
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Nutmeg is a breath of fresh air - completely different from any book I've read lately. It's the story of Meg, who is trying to find out the truth about her origins, but whose mother thwarts her at every turn with a string of impossible fairytale answers. Meg's father was, apparently, the most wonderful French pastry chef who fell in love with her mother in a cherry orchard then died, just days later, in the midst of trying to create an incredible cherry pastry in her honour. The scar on her head is from a crab cake which had a live crab claw left inside that nipped her. And Meg's mother is such a great cook that her lighter-than-air meringues make you float to the ceiling after a single bite...

Now 21, Meg knows that these stories are nothing but flights of her mother's imagination. She has turned to science as a reaction to the stories, preferring to deal with cold, hard facts. The problem is, her mother is very ill and still refuses to tell the truth. How is Meg meant to find out how she really is, when nobody else can tell her?

I really enjoyed this book. The beginning half in particular is beautifully, poetically written - full of tastes, flavours and scents. I loved the dynamic between Meg and her mother - the head and heart, reality and fantasy. There is a sort of magic about the story that made it feel really unique.

I don't think it's a perfect book - the second half felt slightly rushed and I never quite believed in Mark, Meg's scientist boyfriend whose quest for the truth at all times makes him unsympathetic and more of a viewpoint than a character. But I fell in love with Meg and her mother, and overall this is a funny, moving and very original story. What's more, it'll make you feel very hungry...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I came out a little under done", 19 May 2012
By 
elsie purdon "reads too much" (dorset uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Paperback)
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Meg has a mother with the most extraordinary imagination.

In her childhood Meg believed her mother's flights of fantasy were true, but around age 11 disillusionment set in and instead Meg decided her mum was telling her lies. Meg turned to studying science with a passion, she craved reliable cold hard facts. Not stories of runner beans running around the kitchen or the spaghetti tree that grew in their window box after a neighbour dripped some of her dinner carelessly out of the window.

I really enjoyed Meg's mother Valerie's stories. They are inventive and funny. Now a grown up and a scientist Meg just wants to get to the bottom of why Valerie spins these yarns.

An important fact about Valerie is that she really loves cooking. The book is peppered with food references, indeed the first sentence is "I came out a little underdone". Meg believes her father was a French pastry chef.

Not wanting to upset her mother who is clearly very ill with cancer ( though totally in denial), Meg starts to investigate the truth of her childhood starting with the only clue she has, an address on the back of an old flier with an advert for a band playing at a pub in London.

At one stage I was getting irritated by the ridiculousness of the magical thinking. Can slugs really have soft souls? If you speak to them and explain you don't want them to eat your lettuces, will they leave them alone? I don't think so!

I put the book away and left it for days before I could face carrying on. I wanted Meg to confront her mother. She doesn't. She follows up on the clue that she has and soon the story took off and became much more interesting to me. I don't want to spoil the story so I will say no more on this.

There is a lot I liked and enjoyed but I did feel the book sagged a bit in the middle, partly because I couldn't believe in the boyfriend Mark. He remained shadowy unlike Meg and Valerie and other characters who appear. Nutmeg began life as a short story and think this shows a bit in the middle. I do think it works as a novel. As long as you can suspend disbelief and believe in fairies you will love this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and quirky read - is fantasy healthy for your life?, 18 April 2012
By 
Arkgirl (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Paperback)
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Meg May has sought refuge in science and fact after her mother's fantastical upbringing brought her ridicule at school but her mother's illness means time is running out to discover the truth about her father and early days - this is an excellent read that explores the mother/daughter relationship beautifully. The relationship between Meg and her mother is at the core of the story; their different slants on life are explored and explained in a moving way that draws you into the story. I found Mark, Meg's boyfriend, difficult to see as a fully rounded character and that would be my one gripe with the book but I forgive the author because the rest has some lovely story-telling and it also made me think.
If you enjoy imaginative and creative stories with emotional heart this is a great read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo - a fantastic book, 25 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Paperback)
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I was totally enchanted by this novel which is at once funny, moving and thought-provoking.

The story hinges around the relationship between Meg and her eccentric mother, who is terminally ill. The book is a sensory delight as Meg's mother is obsessed with cooking. What's more she has never told Meg the truth about her childhood but has told her stories that fictionalise Meg's life. Meg's memories are made from her mother's stories. Most of the stories involve food - the tastes and smells of pastry and cakes, herbs and spices. Rebelling against this fictional life, Meg takes refuge in science and cold hard facts. But cold hard facts cannot tell the truth as well as fiction can, and it is this that makes the book so engrossing.

Meg's mother is endearing precisely because of her story-telling and eccentricity, something which Meg's boyfriend, the rational Mark, sees as lies and mental illness. Mark is determined to cling to his own myth of scientific sanity, and his attempts to do so mean he rides rough shod over others sensibilities. When Meg eventually finds out the truth about her childhood, she is left wondering whether the memories her mother invented for her gave her a better start in life than the truth.

The divide between fact and fiction is a slippery one, and one which Maria Goodin exploits brilliantly. So much so, that at the end of the book when Meg's mother's funeral arrives you are left wondering how much of Meg's portrayal of it is real and how much of Meg's story was "true".

Tender, funny and poignant, this has definitely been the highlight of my reading year so far, and one I shall be recommending to all my friends.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story, 15 Mar 2012
By 
JJ (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Paperback)
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I very much enjoyed this book by Maria Goodin.
The story is about Meg May, a 21 year old science student at Cambridge University. She is a very grounded girl dealing only in the truth and hard facts. This is completely due to her upbringing. Her mother wove a history of her childhood full of weird and wonderful stories - she was such a sweet baby that neighbours would knock on the doors with their cups of tea and her mother would dip her toe in the cup so they never needed to buy sugar.
Meg, though she loves her mother, has rebelled against the embarrassment of these stories and at the age of 8 decided that only facts will do.
Her mother is ill now and does not have much longer to live so Meg goes to stay with her to care for her and especially to find out, once and for all, who her father was, did he really die in Paris, what was her early childhood really like? But how far can she push her mother who is frail now from the illness and who is still telling and re-telling the stories of old as if they were all real.
This is a story of a mother's love. It is amusing at times and made me want to cry at others. Meg's need to live a life that only sees the truth and facts is sometimes annoying but then again is completely understandable so you never lose sympathy for her. Likewise her mother, with her fanciful stories and her constant baking and cooking and growing lovely things in her garden seems more than a little crazy but is also endearing.
The story slowly unfolds and even if you have an inkling where it is going you want to read on. I read the whole book (having a long day in hospital) and I found it hard to put down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some things are better than reality..., 1 Mar 2012
By 
A John (Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Paperback)
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This is a poignant, tear-jerker of a book. Nothing alters the truth of how things are, but some things can make the truth easier to live with. The book follows the 21 year old Meg, rational science student on her quest to understand why her mother is in denial, why her mother sees everything through a fantasy of food, and cookery. In the process, Meg discovers more about herself, and the value of the world she has constructed. The characters Meg interacts with are drawn more through actions than description; the people here are what they do and say, more than what anyone looks like. It's a book which challenges the accepted parameters of a successful life, asking what really leads to happiness.

I really enjoyed reading this, and would highly recommend it. There is a bit of Meg in all of us - or certainly in me. The theme of having rejected our childhood, and then later coming to terms with it, and who we really are, is something that will resonate with many. It's a book about the love we all have for our mothers, and that deep connection we built as a child.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, 2 July 2014
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Kindle Edition)
One of the most emotional books I have read this year. I couldn't put it down , and when I did I felt tears of happiness.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 10 Mar 2014
By 
Jane "I tend to listen to my audiobooks in th... (wareside, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Nutmeg (Kindle Edition)
Great book, thought provoking and inspiring. I enjoyed it a lot.

Well written believable characters that you care about. Would make a great holiday read. I was drawn in and wanted to see how the story unfolded. Bit of a cheesy predictable ending BUT that doesn't detract from the book but cements it as a good read.
Human nature and great story telling combined with something that all of us can relate to .

Read or listen its good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars emotional story, 27 Jan 2014
By 
Wendy Sheridan (Chesham, Bucks, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Kindle Edition)
Written in very emotional style - frustration, anger, desperation, need to please, confusion, denial all come shining through the narrative in an almost palpable way at times. Although the story was in a lot of ways utterly predictable, I still loved it and enjoyed reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read twice and better for that, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Nutmeg (Kindle Edition)
It is unusual, fun and slightly quirky. At times funny but with a compassionate and sad theme. It kept me engaged. It would make a great little movie.
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Nutmeg by Maria Goodin
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