A Toronto woman joins forces with her handsome neighbor to win a scholarship to culinary school.
Reena Manji’s strong circle of friends and her cooking and baking projects keep her happy despite her lackluster finance job. However, being 31 and having a dozen failed relationships behind her means that her loving but overbearing parents have stepped up their efforts to find her the perfect Muslim husband. Their newest prospect is Nadim Remtulla. He grew up in Dar es Salaam, attended boarding school in England, and now he’s in Toronto working on a real estate deal important to both of their families. Reena can afford her city apartment since her father owns the building, and he offered Nadim an apartment next to hers, hoping to throw them together. Reena has artfully dodged all of her family’s previous matchmaking attempts, but Nadim proves impossible to resist. He’s charming and attractive, but most importantly he agrees to be her partner in a local cooking contest. If Reena wins, she can attend culinary school and leave her boring finance job behind. Heron writes a compelling story of a woman trying to balance personal fulfillment against the intense pressures of familial duty and cultural expectations. Reena’s relationships with her father, mother, and sister are filled with past hurts and secrets, creating a realistically thorny and complex family dynamic. Although Reena makes progress in understanding her place in the family, the solutions are not pat and easy. Nadim is not a point-of-view character and not as well developed; Reena’s personal journey is the main focus of the novel.
Will appeal to readers looking for complex family dramas and sumptuous descriptions of food and cooking.