Author Maria Goodin tells the story of Meg May and her mother Valerie. All Meg can recall of her childhood are the fantastic stories her mother told her. In fact, she heard these repeated so often, that she lost track of the truth.
Now that her mother is seriously ill, Meg has returned home to take care of Valerie and hopefully to convince her mother to tell her the truth behind the stories. Instead, her mother spends hours each day teaching her to cook the many dishes that have fed them and their neighbours over the years. Every time Meg presses her mother for the truth, she shys away and diverts to some other story or to talk of her garden.
With the help of Ewan, a neighbour hired to bring the rambling garden under control, Meg learns to let her imagination back into her life and to accept her mother as she is.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Valerie's stories were amusing, but not so far fetched that I doubted them, rather I felt that they must have been based on some nuggets of truth. Meg must have been a sensitive child. When she repeated some of these stories at school, her class mates poked fun at her for not realizing they were made up. This led Meg to adopt a scientific approach to everything. She shed her imagination and instead saw every thing a very sterile black and white, even when it came to romance. How boring.
There was a lot of wonderful food described in this novel, but it was not overwhelming to the story line. Meg and Valerie would spend all day cooking, eat very little and then the food would just seem to disappear. It was later in the book that the destination of this food was revealed.
I was surprised to learn that this is a debut novel. It has all the right things, character, locations, back stories, that make me want to read more by Maria Goodin.
This book was originally published in the UK under the title Nutmeg, and in Australia and New Zealand under the title The Storyteller's Daughter.
Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.