Review & Giveaway: The Storyteller’s Daughter by Maria Goodin

@ Goodreads

Title: The Storyteller’s Daughter

Author: Maria Goodin

Published: Allen & Unwin December 2012

Synopsis: Meg May can’t remember anything about her early childhood but her cookery-obsessed, fairytale-telling mother has filled her in on all the important details. Meg knows that her father was a French chef who died in a tragic pastry-making accident; that as a premature baby she was put on a sunny windowsill to ripen; and that the scar on her cheek was the result of a nasty nip from one of her mother’s crab cakes. But, at eight years old, Meg rebels against this fictional life and decides there and then to turn her back on the world of stories, determined to let logic rule every thought and deed. Now on the verge of a respected scientific career with a scientist boyfriend who believes only in facts, Meg is called home. Her mother is ill and as Meg spends one last beautiful summer baking, gardening and talking with her mother, rediscovering what’s important, she longs to know the reality of her life–but Meg may not discover the truth in time.

Status: Read on December 03, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

The Storyteller’s Daughter (first published as Nutmeg in the UK, and to be published in the US as From the Kitchen of Half Truth) by debut author Maria Goodin is a a poignant story of a relationship between a mother who has taken refuge in fantasy and a daughter who wants only the facts.

Meg’s mother has told her daughter whimsical stories of her birth and early childhood, stories Meg had no reason to doubt since she has no memory of anything that happened before her fifth birthday. But at eight years old Meg May’s belief in her eccentric mother’s tales of runaway runner beans, neighing horseradish and nipping crab cakes was shattered by the taunts of her peers. Now twenty-one, with her mother, Valerie, dying from a terminal illness, Meg has one last summer to discover the truth about her past.

The Storyteller’s Daughter can not really be labeled as magical realism but it has a sense of whimsy that creates that impression. The imaginative tales stemming from Valerie’s obsession with food and cooking are absolutely charming, from the mint slice that bestows super speed to the hotdogs that bark and the toad in the hole that refuses to stay put. Apparently initially developed from an award winning short story, there are some flaws to be found, with holes in the plot, and sometimes weak characterisation yet the writing has a delightful rhythm and lovely imagery.

Meg’s rejection of her mother’s make believe world has driven her to excel in science, finding comfort in logic and order. In returning home to care for her sick mother Meg is forced to confront her mother’s delusions in her quest for the truth of her early childhood. Humorless and patronising, Meg is not immediately likeable, though she is sympathetic as it’s easy to understand her frustration with her mother’s evasion of the truth.

Valerie’s eccentric behaviour is both endearing and quite maddening. She is an attentive, loving and supportive mother but her denial of reality is quite absurd. It is obvious however that beneath the fantastical stories Meg’s mother has concocted lies a dark secret, and in fact we eventually learn she is hiding some horrifying truths. Truths that Meg finds that she regrets insisting on knowing when they reveal painful memories.

The Storyteller’s Daughter is an enchanting tale of love, loss, and the conflict between what the head knows and what the heart wants. It is quirky and unusual but altogether I thought it moving, tender and funny.

Available To Purchase

@Allen & Unwin I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

Via Booko

Nutmeg @Amazon UK  I From the Kitchen of Half Truth @Amazon US (preorder only)

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lemon123
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 18:41:41

    I would like to read this book. Some thing about the plot is really different and fun.

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  2. Nadia
    Dec 07, 2012 @ 02:11:08

    This book sounds so sweet. I definitely will be kindling this one. Great post!

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  3. Laura Fabiani
    Dec 07, 2012 @ 04:22:52

    Sometimes I’m in the mood to read enchanting and whimsical stories. This one sounds like it would be just the right one.

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    Reply

  4. Teddyree
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 22:33:05

    Lovely review Shelleyrae, it sounds delightful and I love the cover!

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  5. Trackback: Blog Tour: From the Kitchen of Half Truth by Maria Goodin | book'd out
  6. Chloe
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 12:34:45

    I was wondering if you would go into a bit more depth about what you thought the holes in the plot were and the weak characterisation?

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Nov 27, 2013 @ 16:33:34

      Hi Chloe, by my admittedly now fuzzy memory I thought there was an mismatch between Meg’s stated age and her attitude/behaviour that didn’t quite ring true.. I also thought the men, Mark and Ewan, were quite contrived in their contrast. To be honest I can’t remember what I felt were the holes in the plot though I believe they were minor and had to do with Meg’s search for her father.

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