The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

A quick rundown… A group of elderly people move to a rest home in India, with many funny consequences.

Strengths: It’s hilarious in parts, sad in others – it’s a very ‘feeling’ kind of book.

Weaknesses: Wanted more!

Why I read it: Meant to see the movie, but never got there!

Pages: 259 (ebook)

Published: 2004 (as These Foolish Things)

Publisher: Vintage

Setting: England and India

Rating: 9 out of 10

It’s kind of ironic that as I write this review, the Australian media is discussing the treatment of people in aged care facilities. While The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an amusing look at getting old, it has some salient points about the care and respect that our elders deserve.

I was inspired to read this book after seeing a preview for the movie, because it looked really funny. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’m really glad that I read the book. The premise is fairly simply – a doctor is inspired with his brother to start a ‘rest home’ for elderly UK residents in India, where everything is cheaper and the weather is better. It’s also a way to remove his troublesome father in law from his life! The residents come together in a motley fashion – some are looking to stretch out what little money they have left, others are returning to the India of their youth, some want adventure and some aren’t going entirely of their own will… There are cultural gaffes and tensions as the group settle down, but the friendship that blooms is really something special. It reminded me that it’s not just young people who have all the fun.

I raced through this book – all the characters are unique and have an interesting back story. I found Norman’s character particularly funny! Some may think the escapades of the elderly as being clichéd at times, but I found that wasn’t the case at all. It’s a lovely, light hearted look at getting older – both the good and the bad.

I’d definitely read another of Moggach’s books, even though I’ve heard that not all are as humourous as this one. That’s okay, because this book has demonstrated her excellent skills at creating memorable characters.


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