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The Mouseproof Kitchen - Q&A

(87 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 04-Feb-14 14:48:16

Those who were lucky enough to win copies of this month's book club choice should have received their books.

Author Saira Shah will be doing a Q&A later in the month - so do add your questions for her here. (For those who don't yet have a copy details about the book and how to get one here


Saira has now answered your questions - you can read what she has to say from here

gardener Tue 11-Feb-14 17:03:36

Reading this wonderfully written book makes you realise how terribly difficult it must be trying to cope with a severely disabled child.
My questions are :-
1. Did you ever think of giving up your daughter ?
2. What was your reason for writing the book...for your readers....for yourself ?

inishowen Wed 12-Feb-14 09:20:24

I've just finished mine. I thought it was very readable, despite the subject being so sad. Tobias really annoyed me though! He seemed so lazy and uncaring. I know the author has a disabled daughter so she has more insight that I ever could. I didn't like it when they couldn't sort out the house properly. Why did Tobias buy a wreck if he had zero skills and just allowed the rats to have their way? I felt like giving him a good shake!

pamelaJEAN Wed 12-Feb-14 09:27:25

Thank you for my copy of The Mouseproof Kitchen, I am halfway through the book, and can really relate to this story... my grandaughter (who celebrated her 11th birthday yesterday) was born with Williams Syndrome.. the first sign that anything was wrong with her was she was born with a cleft palate, then they found she had a heart murmer... but finding out several months later that she had Williams Syndrome.. was a real roller coaster for my daughter and husband.. .I have often thought of writing a book about my beloved grandaughter Molly Ann.... but really dont know how to go about it....have you any tips for me.

Stansgran Wed 12-Feb-14 09:52:57

I was sure I had posted a question soon after I received the book so thank you again. I'm finding it a very difficult read. I disliked the parents intensely so far. I liked the Chanel 19. mother enormously and could see where she came from.i suppose I just dislike people who feel that they must have a baby and then expect all the help in the world for their creation. Oh let's run away and leave someone else to deal with it. In real life the French social services paid for someone to look after the baby while they had two weeks in Cambodia!I just hate that attitude. Then Freya's mother decides she still must have the perfect IVF babies. No self awareness at all that actually her genetic code may be the reason for the scrambled brains of the child. If I have any question it is why she does not think it is a misery memoir. I found it as depressing as Angela's Ashes.

gillybob Wed 12-Feb-14 10:22:33

Thank you very much for my copy of Mouseproof Kitchen.

When I began reading the book and realised what it was actually about, my first thought was "Oh no" (Did I really want to depress myself reading such a tragic story?) I persevered and soon realised that this was not a miserable story at all but a book about a couple who renovated a house in France, food and laughter and had a baby born with severe difficulties. It did make me feel quite sad at times (and tearful) but it was beautifully written and really quite humorous in parts. Suprisingly I did not find myself feeling sorry for Anna or Tobias at all.

I absolutely adored the book by the way and would love to read more.

klittlewood Wed 12-Feb-14 10:28:59

Just started reading it smile

Think its great that something that is not discussed and feelings that are kept personal can be written about.

joannapiano Wed 12-Feb-14 11:11:52

I finished this book last night and found it an interesting read. Like inishowen I found the character of Tobias extremely annoying.I couldn't understand why Anna would stay with a man that kept telling her to dump her baby. I also didn't fully understand why the couple thought buying a wreck of a house in France would be fulfilling, when he was such a self-centered man.
I enjoyed reading the interview with Saira Shah and was relieved to learn that her husband has been an absolute rock!
I would be very interested to know if Saira is writing another book at the moment.

avery64 Wed 12-Feb-14 11:21:01

An amazing book, could not put it down. Now retired I had the luxury of the time to read it in a day I was so enthralled by it. I did not read about the author before I started but all the way through I felt that she must have experience of some of the issues to be able to write as she does. It was only when I finished with mixed emotions as it had been such a good read that I read about her personal experience of having a severely disabled child. I am now lending the book out to my daughter/dauhter-in-law and anybody else I know that might appreciate it. It will then be added to my library, I could not part with it.

tttJay Wed 12-Feb-14 11:23:43

Thank you for my book :-) about halfway through and it's not a book I would have bought, but it is compelling reading. Many emotions though....if there is a sequel, I would have to buy it!

sallyc06 Wed 12-Feb-14 12:24:16

What a fantastic book, I couldn't put it down, very emotional in places. A really good read, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

bevwillis Wed 12-Feb-14 13:25:10

I've finished reading it and quite enjoyed it. Felt that Anna was a real person with normal faults but basically a good person and a caring mom who did well to put up with such a lazy husband and such a dilapidated home. Found it hard to believe they could cope so well financially when supporting so many people with very little (or so it seemed) coming in.
All in all a good read.

suzied Wed 12-Feb-14 15:29:53

Question: How did Saira find the time to write the book whilst caring for her disabled child? Did she have lots of support? Was writing the book therapeutic?

pattieb Wed 12-Feb-14 17:52:48

Thank you for my copy of the book I have only just started it and to date am finding it very interesting. I have read the Telegraph article and am fascinated by your family history Saira. I also very much admire you for not sending your Daughter to board at school.

ChrisR Wed 12-Feb-14 19:21:41

I didn't enjoy The Mouseproof Kitchen, I liked the title and the front cover. I have lived in a ''derelict but habitable'' cottage, with water from a bore hole and rodents as uninvited lodgers! Definitely NOT the place for a new born. Find it difficult to understand why parents would do this.

Annie29 Wed 12-Feb-14 19:46:42

Thank you for my copy of The Mouseproof Kitchen. What a great read, I got into it straight away and can not put it down. I am really enjoying reading this book.
I will look out for future books by this Author

penguinpaperback Wed 12-Feb-14 22:07:38

I also hope you write a sequel Saira, I bought my copy after reading the article with you in The Telegraph. Reading the Notes and Acknowledgements at the end I read the book had been written at the time when you had virtually no sleep! I'm passing my copy onto my daughter, I found it such an enjoyable and inspiring read.

DavidH22 Thu 13-Feb-14 10:50:35

Many thanks for my copy. I found it very thought-provoking and emotional to get an insight into the thoughts of those who suddenly find themselves with a disabled child. Like Tobias I have no idea how I would have reacted in the short or long-term although he deserved to have his head shoved into Anna's Lacanche Range cooker for some of his remarks and actions.
Can I ask Ms Shah her views on the way we look after disabled children in this country and whether we still try to make them invisible, subconsciously or not?

Cagsy Thu 13-Feb-14 10:53:12

Thanks for the book, like tttJay I'm not sure I'd have bought it either. I didn't read about Saira until I'd finished the book and having done so had lots of my questions answered. I did keep wondering; can parents really choose not to love their baby? Does it really get so bad that you would consider walking away? I guess you're planning for your daughter's future, how difficult is the knowledge that at some stage as she grows you won't be able to manage without a lot of help? Do you feel isolated from other parents and 'family life'?
On a practical level I too couldn't understand what you were living on during all this time in France, nor why you'd live in a place infested with rodents with a tiny baby - can you help us understand that?
Many thanks and good luck to you all, may you stay strong enough to face all that life may throw at you.

emmasnan Thu 13-Feb-14 13:53:56

I found this an interesting but very sad book.
Tobias really annoys me!

Did you plan to make him so irritating when you started out to write the book?

cazthebookworm Thu 13-Feb-14 15:27:34

Thank you for the book which I read on holiday. Not really a cheerful read but very moving and so well put across, I really felt the emotions that Anna was going through, it felt very real, almost like a biography. Was it an easy transition going from the extreme career you once had to becoming a mother of a severely disabled child, and which do you think brings you the most fulfillment? I am full of admiration for both roles.

granfromafar Thu 13-Feb-14 21:23:22

Thanks so much for my free copy which I have just finished reading. Mixed feelings about it - part enjoyment, part irritation with some of the characters. I felt as if I was reading it as if I was watching a scary film through my hands, not really wanting to see what was happening but not being able to look away. Annoyed with Anna when she ran away and got on a flight back to England (How did she have here passport with her? It seemed to be a spur-of -the-moment decision!)

Fid Fri 14-Feb-14 13:07:11

Lucky to have received this book, which I have just started to read. I am thinking it CAN'T be fictional, it has such a powerful beginning. I must get back to it.......

annemac101 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:25:04

I am really enjoying this book,apart from being annoyed at Tobias. I think knowing the author had much the same experiences gives the story more authenticity. No one knows how they would react if they were faced with a baby with severe disabilities, I think also if you're told your child may have a shorted life you would be scared to love her and try to protect your heart.
As for the comment about the French respite in the author's real life situation,I think that was very hurtful. A full time carer needs respite if only to keep themselves sane and come back from it refreshed ready to carry on. I can only think you have no idea about children with special needs.
I'd like to ask the author if she plans to carry on writing more books and how much does she miss the adrenalin rush she must have had from making documentaries in dangerous places.

coffecup Fri 14-Feb-14 14:29:28

Thank you for mouseproof kitchen found it hard going at times but
will percever to the end thought the rats were a bit over the top

Maggiemaybe Fri 14-Feb-14 18:50:05

I'm finding The Mouseproof Kitchen very enjoyable and well-written, if upsetting at times. I'm having to suspend my disbelief rather a lot - surely nobody would even consider a move into that wreck of a house with a vulnerable baby with such severe disabilities, and would the social services of any country in Europe actually allow it? No water supply, no cooking facilities, no proper sewage system, rats (let alone so far from family and friends and with an absolute pig of a husband)??!! But hey-ho, it's fiction, and not a biography.

My question to Saira would be - you say in your interview in the Telegraph that your mother is actually a lot less conventional than Anna’s eccentric mother, Amelia. confused I'm not halfway through the book yet, but Amelia seems like a complete fruitcake to me. Please tell us more about your mother - she must be quite a character! grin