Monday, July 18, 2011

Have a Toast

I was in a 12 hour flight from London to Singapore. A range of movies, music and TV shows are in my disposal. I flickered through it but nothing really catches my eyes. As you may know, I don’t go for blockbusters with well known movie stars. I want to watch what others don’t watch. Something off the beaten path. Something different but as interesting as the famous titles.

I saw the name Helena Bonham Carter in one of the movies. A movie called Toast. I’ve never heard of it. But only with the Helena catch, I put on my earphone and pressed play.

It is set in the 60s, in Wolverhampton, England. Nigel Slater loves trips to the groceries and more than happy to pick up fresh food to cook with. His mother, however, can’t do well in the kitchen and always picks up canned food, or as Nigel put it, ‘never had veggies that weren’t from a tin’. Each time his mother overcooked or ruined a meal, they had toast, hence the title. Things got harder when his mother fallen sick and died of asthma.

Nigel kept trying to cook for his father now his mother gone. It was becoming a thing for him. Eventually, his father met a new woman, Mrs. Potter, a cleaning lady for their house. On the contrary, Mrs. Potter is an expert cook. Nigel was determined to learn how to cook and match Mrs. Potter’s expertise. He took home economics and made cakes for his father.

I find it hard to find the main problem in the story at first. But I started to see the connection. Because his mother can’t cook, he wants to do the opposite of doing great cooking. It is also powered by his curiosity of food as a child. Fresh food or at least non canned food was something very fascinating to him, making him want to use it even more. Along came Mrs. Potter who tried to take his mother’s place. She has something Nigel doesn’t, an ability to make good food. I think at that moment, Nigel felt challenged and wanting to do more, to satisfy his father and making the impression ‘I’m here first and I can do better’ on Mrs. Potter.

I say it’s a great story of doing something you are not familiar with but turned out to be good. Nigel never knew cooking but nothing is impossible. He later became very good at what he does. If you love something, it will fall into place, one way or the other.

It’s a TV movie starring Bonham Carter, with Freddie Highmore and Ken Stott, based on an autobiography of a British chef, Nigel Slater.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Safe and Sound

Have I mentioned I love Nicholas Sparks? And I dedicated a portion of my money to buy everything he wrote? Well, I haven't actually got them all but I did buy the newest one about a month ago, Safe Haven. For him, I don't even read the review. I just go on and purchase it (but the paperback version of course, I won't be able to buy lunch for days if I buy the hardcover version)

I have a really bad habit of putting down what I was reading to move on to the newer book I bought. I guess Safe Haven deserve it. It's really my kind of story.

We are introduced to Katie, a waitress in Southport, North Carolina. She is new to the place and struggling to make ends meet. She finally got around to settle in a cottage, far from where she works. There she met her neighbor Jo, who became her friend since. She also met a man, Alex, former army, widowed with two children. Katie dropped by Alex's store to pick up daily goods and from then they became good friends, later, lovers.

Nobody really knows about Katie's past and how she turned up in Southport. With a little help from Jo and Alex, she reveals her secret. A secret she will have to confront in the end.

Well, the story about a mysterious woman in a small town got me hooked. At the time I started, I was seriously thinking about how nice it would be to have a story like that and Safe Haven indulged my imagination. I love the connection and how both Alex and Katie helped each other out. Alex lost his wife, Katie lost her partner. It's lovely to see how both strengthen each other, filling the missing element. I've always loved the idea of a person helping another person and gains insight in the end. Helping people to help yourself. It might sound one is taking advantage of the other but it isn't always like that. For each person you helped or inspired, it's good for you too.

The best part was at the end of the story, there is a twist which will make you go 'awwwww'

Safe Haven deals with loss and finding hope in others. A lesson in trusting other people again when the previous one failed. A lesson to deal with problems, not letting it go unfinished and pretend it's in another life. That getting a fresh start might be a good thing, but never forget your past.

Safe Haven
Nicholas Sparks


NB: I'm currently reading When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. It's doing great :D