Title: SWEET NEEM
Author: Mohini Durgampudi
Publish Year: 2018
OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK:
Set in Hyderabad, also known as the City of Pearls, this is a story of three generations coming together in a year across cultural, social and generational divides. The family deals with life and death and grapple with love and loss. The younger ones are awed by the ancient city with its ultra-modern trappings while the elders witness the magic and power of digital revolution and social media. Sri and Mia have to hit the ground running when they move to India to take over the struggling family business, Restaurant Annapurna. The groom died in celebratory gunfire after the wedding. What to do with the big fat Indian wedding feast already prepared for the hundreds of guests?! What about Annapurna? And why Sweet Neem?
The name ‘Sweet Neem‘ was the first element that seized my attention even before reading the excerpt of about the book the author, Mohini Durgampudi sent me when she approached me for a review! Also, the cover of the novel is quite catchy with a bright coloured red chilli powder spread over, with the iconic Charminar in the background, making it evident that the story is set in Hyderabad. One of the prime reasons why I was very much intrigued to read the book is because of my Love for Hyderabad. Period.
The story revolves around how a newlywed couple, Sri and Mia manage to maintain and run a family owned restaurant named ‘Annapurna‘ and the setbacks they face in doing so. Let me be clear when I state that even though Sri and Mia play the lead roles of the story, nowhere in the course of the whole novel you feel that other characters weaved into the story are less important. The author succeeded the most in maintaining a balance between each and every aspect of the story. It is like each character stands firm as pillars to the narrative. It was delightful to see an amalgamation of numerous emotions and perspectives in a single storyline! Even though there aren’t many twists and turns, the author managed to seize my attention with a simple storyline. It was almost like any other story next door, but still, I was surprised by the fact that I couldn’t just lay the book down until I finished reading it altogether.
Hyderabad has a very diverse community, and it reflects in the way local’s lead their life here. That is something which fascinates me, and if given a chance I would never move out of this beautiful city! Even saying that all those fresh and colourful aspects of life in Hyderabad are beautifully captured in this book would be an understatement; As I feel guilty about not being able to describe it more beautifully! The most exciting aspect of the book is the chapter names the author has chosen. Each section has a title that represents a food item, and It would surprise you how the author introduced that title of food into the storyline. It not only signifies the food and its taste in general but how its flavour relates to life. There is also a hidden touch of humour in the form of quirky Hyderabad lines that refresh the set of the story every now and then.
The author somehow managed to fit in all the slants of Hyderabad varying from ‘A Sense of Humanity to Ugly Truth‘ and ‘Opulent lanes to Narrow alleys‘ into the storyline.
The book talks a lot about food and cuisines and also explores the facts behind the usage of each ingredient which again goes well with the narrative. There is an offside that some might feel it unpalatable as it talks a lot about food, but still, it is a matter of perception. Being a foodie, I loved the noise the food, spices, and its talk created in the storyline. The author also managed to cover the religious diversity of Hyderabad, and different festivals celebrated interestingly along with the food and its essence in everyday life. By the end of the storyline, the author leaves a feel of Hyderabad like a heartbeat inside you and desire to see the city which is a paradise in its own unique way!
Just to be clear, if you are expecting it to be filled with twists and turns, then you will be disappointed. There was a single instance where the description of the food felt a bit stretched, but I am not letting that affect the rating I give for the book on the whole, as for me, the real essence is the story. Though I was a bit disappointed and felt like a bit more could have been added to the ending, I came to peace with the fact that it is meant to be like that; Simple and close to heart!
Mohini Durgampudi is an entrepreneur, food safety instructor, and assists at a culinary incubator. She started her career in the IT sector but took a very happy and eager detour into the food industry.
An avowed bookworm, her writings so far have been anonymous contributions to travel and food blogs and crowd-sourced websites. Sweet Neem is her first book, and it brings together her love for food, travel, family, history, and culture.
You can follow her work on Facebook.
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Well described overview of the novel. As usual, when ever I read your post, it feels as if you are talking to me in person. Your writing has a way of communicating with readers.
Coming to the novel, The Title itslef is catchy. It has a sassy South Indian flavor to it. Looking forward to get one and start reading.
Thank you Ravi for dropping by and leaving a comment. It is indeed a refreshing read. Leaves you with a warm feeling once done reading. I hope to hear from you once you read it 🙂
Ha good click kheer, its your pic that pulled my attention to the post,and now after reading your post i really am eager to get my hands on the book!! After all it talks about food and that to from hyd…
Yeah true that! Hyderabadi’s and food aren’t two different entities, it is like we share a bond with the food 😛 Thanks a lot for dropping by!
I am intrigued.The groom dying is serious issue .Now I have to read the book!Great review.
Thanks a lot for stopping by Amrita. Would love to know your take on the book 🙂
I’ve only been to Hyderabad very briefly once, so this sounds like a fascinating read. Thanks for the well-balanced review.
Thanks a lot Damyanti for stopping by and also for this lovely comment ?.
I don’t think every book needs to be packed with twists and turns. Even some that are can benefit from the slow and descriptive, comforting and enticing descriptions of a good meal and its preparation (Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels come to mind, and who doesn’t immediately recognize the line “fava beans and a nice Chianti” from Silence of the Lambs?) Sounds like a very temptingly flavorful book!
You summed it up in a better way Holly. Exactly my thoughts. Indeed, it is a very temptingly flavourful book which explores the core essence of the city i live in, Hyderabad!
Thanks a lot for stopping by and leaving this thoughtful comment 🙂
Sounds like a good one. I like to know about cities so this could be a good way. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks a lot Parul for dropping by 🙂
before anything else, i love your photo composition! Who would have thought to compose a book with the spices. Loved the idea! This looks like an interesting book, just like its title.
🙂 Thanks a lot Tina. Once I finished reading, the very first thought was to create a cover photo which justifies the story and couldn’t think of doing anything better than use all the spices just like how the story has all the flavours to it.
Hyderabad is my husbands favorite city:)
This book sounds refreshing and very interesting . I love books centred in a particular city and highlighting it. Your gorgeous photography makes me lean towards reading ‘Sweet Neem’ soon, and I hope to.
Thanks for sharing.
To tell you the truth, I saw the title of your post and decided to read this post for MyFriendAlexa reading of today. I liked the name Sweet Name. Once I started reading your review, I realised not only is the title catchy but also your review is worth mentioning. You have done complete justice to the book. And, also I couldn’t help but notice the image you have created with the book – book and spices! Well done!
Keerthi, there are so many things to love about your post. First, the artistic juxtaposition of the spices and the book, then the review of a simple story that stole your heart. Thirdly, you have a way with words that makes it easy to influence the reader favourably. I,for one, am all set to read this book. Plus, I love Hyderabad too. Kudos!
Will give it a read
Interesting Review. will be adding to my TBR soon #Viddhreads #MyFriendAlexa
a nice way to know about beautiful city thru this amazing book. thanks
This book sounds like a interesting read. I am planning to visit Hyderabad since ages but it never happens. I do hope I can make it soon.
Your review of the book, and the fact that this is based on Hyderabad, city which I loved staying in once, and would love to go back, makes me wanna grab my copy today:) Thanks for sharing!
I just loved the idea of clicking the book picture and will definitely love to read the book
Seems an interesting review, thanks for sharing.
I have visited Hyderabad briefly and found the city intriguing. Your review definitely has me asking for more.. going to get a hold on the book.
Quite a thorough review. Sounds interesting. Added to my tbr. Thanks, Keerthi. 🙂 #LiveItYoungReads #MyFriendAlexa
Adding the book to my TBR list.
Sounds like a very interesting read!
Your review makes me want to grab a copy soonest, Keerthi. Hyderabad has a beautiful blend of the old and new world. The cover is catchy and I’m intrigued with the food item chapter names. Adding this to my list!
I loved the flatlay you took for the cover of this post. The book sounds really interesting.. i love reading about food too and how it can be weaved into the narrative. Have read a few books like that. I can sense your passion for Hyderabad, food and how this book brings it all together.
Wonderfully described.I literally feel urge to get a copy for me. I like stories/books on our Indian plot and this books having everything I like.
Lovely review! The book seems really interesting. Will pick it up on my next book shopping round. I have also shared it in my building’s library group. #MyFriendAlexa #MayuraReads
Loved the review of the book and your honest opinion about being disappointed at the end. Anyway a book is read to enjoy the process while reading. Will read the book and learn more about cuisine and Hyderabad.
Looks like an interesting read and I like your review style.
MeenalSonal from AuraOfThoughts
Loved this detailed review. I should read this Author. Another book goes into the list ??❤️
Very insightful review. Though not my kind of genre, I will consider reading this nook for sure. I need to explore different kinds of books. ☺️
will grab the copy soon. Thanks for the review
I loved the picture and the review is also written well.
Loved the review. Such details! I would love if you can review my book too girl 🙂 It would be so cool <3 Nonetheless This post was an awesome read!