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The Mouse-Proof Kitchen

The Mouse-Proof Kitchen

A Novel

  • reading group guide
“A journey of the heart…Shah writes with sensuous passion” (The New York Times Book Review).

When Anna, a chef by profession, discovers she’s pregnant, she prepares to leave dreary London behind and move to idyllic Provence, France, with her husband, Tobias, and her lovable baby-to-be. But she’s suddenly forced to reevaluate her dreams when their baby is born less than perfect. Little do Anna and Tobias know that the change in plans sparked by Freya’s birth is the beginning of an incredible journey of the heart. Along the way, they discover that there truly is no such thing as a mouse-proof kitchen, and though life sometimes gets a little messy, it’s the messy bits that give it meaning.

The couple and their new daughter end up in a vermin-infested farmhouse in a remote town in France—far from the mansion in Provence they’d originally imagined. Their rickety home is falling down around them, the village is involved in a decades-old trauma, and even the charms of the region’s lavender fields and a budding romance between two of their young neighbors can’t distract from the fact that Freya’s hospital stays are becoming frighteningly frequent. Anna must draw on reserves of strength she never knew she had just to keep going from day to day. But will it be enough to keep her family together—and her daughter safe?

Told with “the most pitch-perfect, radiant prose” (New York Times bestselling author Marisa de los Santos), The Mouse-Proof Kitchen is a moving and thought-provoking story about how the best parts of life are often the most complicated.
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  • Atria/Emily Bestler Books | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476705675 | 
  • September 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Mouse-Proof Kitchen includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

On what should have been the most joyous day of their lives, Anna and Tobias welcome a severely disabled daughter into the world. Their little Freya will mostly likely never walk, never talk—probably not even know who they are. Taking a leap of faith, they make the decision to leave London behind and start a new life for their family in a fixer-upper in the French countryside. The dramatic scenery, nutty neighbors, and persistent rodent problems are minor distractions compared with Freya’s fragile condition, and the limits of their love for their daughter—and each other—are being tested at every turn. Overwhelmed, unprepared, and terrified of what the future holds for both Freya and themselves, Anna and Tobias grapple with whether or not they are strong enough to love their child—or strong enough to give her up.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Very quickly after Freya‘s birth, Anna and Tobias realize that their “normal” lives have irrevocably changed. With all of the challenges see more

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About the Author

Saira Shah
Photograph by Scott Goodfellow

Saira Shah

Saira Shah has won three Emmys for her films Unholy War, Beneath the Veil, and Death in Gaza. She has also written an autobiography, The Storyteller’s Daughter. Saira retired from filmmaking in 2003 and divides her time between the UK and France.

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