Climbing the Mango Trees (and a linkup)

Climbing the Mango TreesThe hardest reviews for me to write are always the ones where I don’t have strong feelings about a book, and Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey is a prime example of that sort of book.

It’s fine. The writing is nice, and there are some good stories, but it’s not as engaging as I wanted it to be. It always felt very surface-level, and even after finishing it I didn’t feel like I had a great sense of who she is. I wanted more from the book – more emotion, more depth, more details.

I’m still glad I read it, both because it is such a different life and background than other memoirs I’ve read, and because I kept running across it on “great food memoir” lists. I side-eye it’s inclusion there a bit, as I don’t think it’s truly a great food memoir like some are. However, not every book can be amazing, and this one was still enjoyable enough.

Recommended for devoted memoir fans – this is unlike to convert anyone to the genre.


Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion of Burial Rites on September 1st.


If you’ve written a post about Climbing the Mango Trees, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

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Introducing August’s Book Club Selection: Climbing the Mango Trees

Climbing the Mango TreesClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in IndiaClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey

What It’s About

Description from Goodreads:

Today’s most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared.

Madhur (meaning “sweet as honey”) Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound, where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfully flavorful dishes that were forever imprinted on Madhur’s palate.

Climbing mango trees in the orchard, armed with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground chilies, and roasted cumin; picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint and tucked into freshly fried pooris; sampling the heady flavors in the lunch boxes of Muslim friends; sneaking tastes of exotic street fare–these are the food memories Madhur Jaffrey draws on as a way of telling her story. Independent, sensitive, and ever curious, as a young girl she loved uncovering her family’s many-layered history, and she was deeply affected by their personal trials and by the devastating consequences of Partition, which ripped their world apart.

Climbing the Mango Trees is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory. And, at the end, this treasure of a book contains a secret ingredient–more than thirty family recipes recovered from Madhur’s childhood, which she now shares with us.

Why Was This Title Selected

I was looking for a memoir with a non-US focus. This one had been languishing on my TBR list for several years, and it seemed like it would provide some good discussion fodder. Why this one in particular? I almost always love food memoirs, and hoped others would enjoy that element as well.

Anything Else to Know About It?

Madhur Jaffrey is credited for being the one to introduce Indian cuisine to the West through her 1973 cookbook, An Introduction to Indian Cookery. She’s also an award-winning actress.

Discussion about the book is starting today, but if you’d like to join in the first few questions will be very general, and you’ll have time to catch up by the time we get into anything substantive. It’s available in print, for Kindle, or Nook, or on Audible. And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

What’s Coming Up in August?

Burial RitesBurial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent by Hannah Kent

Why did I select it? I’ve been eyeing it, and then Audible included it on a list as one of their titles that has near perfect narration ratings. That seemed like an extra bonus to choosing it from my list of possible historical fiction titles. Two additional reasons: Iceland is not my usual sort of setting, and I always love reading fiction that’s been inspired by real events.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!