Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Novel
  (Random House Movie Tie-In Books)
      - originally published as These Foolish Things

I don't go to many movies- we might watch one movie a month at home, but generally only grace the local theater once a year. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith together were enough of a draw for us to attend the afternoon matinee last week to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" - a marvelous, well-acted, uproariously funny movie that showed us the best and the worst of aging. It was so well done, and so enjoyable that I immediately went on the hunt for Deborah Maggoch's original novel that was the basis for the screenplay. It was not easy to find, but I did locate it for my Kindle, and had an even more enjoyable experience reading the novel.

The story basically portrays the lives and losses of a group of English elders: widows and widowers, divorcees, singles, and a well-traveled couple. For various reasons, most of them economic, these folk have decided (or their less than caring off-spring decided for them) that they can no longer afford to stay in Merry Old England, and accept the offer to move to a new retirement community in India (well after all, they speak English there!) billed as the Best EXOTIC Marigold Hotel.

The Marigold can best be described as a dowager empress....good bone structure, but the skin is sagging, and the bones are creaking. Each of the emigres brings a unique set of expectations, and is dealing with singular losses. How they handle the enormous changes and adapt themselves to a new culture, new food, lack of the plumbing, transportation, and energy standards to which they were accustomed at home, is portrayed with empathy, gentleness and wonderful respect for aging human beings. They eventually form a family unit as they muddle their way through their unexpected difficulties, and expand that family to include new friends from the Indian community.

It's a lovely book, an affirming story that helps us realize that "we're not getting older, we're getting better" and that the model of a society where all the generations live together and the elderly are esteemed and cared for is one much to be coveted.

Do go see the movie if you have a chance, and read the book too. They're different enough that one doesn't impinge on the other. They are distinct and delightful.

Author: Deborah Moggach
Publisher-Format: Random House Digital, Inc. - Kindle edition, 337 pages
Year of publication: 2012
Subject:  aging gracefully
Setting: England and Bangalore India
Genre: fiction
Source: Amazon - I bought it.


  1. I really enjoyed the movie. I think I'll have to add the book to my TBR.

  2. I remember seeing the trailer for this...and then never saw anything of it again. Maybe a book Netflix choice.

  3. I've read about this movie before; am looking forward to seeing it.

  4. Just bought the Kindle version based on your recommendation. Sounds like a good one for this aging baby-boomer. Thanks for the rave reviews.

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