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Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune – Book Review

If you need a lovely escape, especially if you are a fan of magical realism, Roselle Lim’s debut novel Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is a must-read! Read on for why I loved this book so much! Netgalley and Berkely Publishing Group thoughtfully provided an advanced reader copy for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links and if you click on one, I might receive a commission.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune – Book ReviewNatalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
on June 11, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Women, Asian American, Magical Realism
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon
Buy from your local independent bookstore via

Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim's magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.

At the news of her mother's death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn't spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco's Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She's even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother's restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant's fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother's cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around--she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.


"Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is for every reader who likes a side of magic with their foodie fiction. You'll want to move into the Chinatown neighborhood for the mouth-watering dumplings and the charming, eclectic neighbors. Exquisitely written, Roselle Lim sifts through the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, the freedom in unraveling family secrets, and the power of resilience."--Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go

"Roselle Lim serves up a feast for the senses and the heart with this magical tale of love, loss, and redemption in San Francisco's Chinatown. Filled with luscious, mouth-watering recipes, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune explores the hidden ties of family, mental illness, and desires lost and found, through the delectably transformative power of food. I had to stop myself from running out to buy juicy roast pork, plump crispy dumplings, and sweet pea sprouts!"--Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghost Bride and The Night Tiger

"A truly delicious page-turner, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is a magical feast for the mind, the heart, and the senses. With mouth-watering prose, crystallized characters, and a healthy dash of magic, Lim has created the perfect recipe for a truly delicious page-turner. I devoured this book. Sign me up for seconds!"--Samantha Verant, author of How to Make a French Family

"Vivid and lyrical with a touch of magic. Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune explores culture, community, and the complex love between mothers and daughters, leaving your heart full...and your belly hungry. I absolutely loved it."--Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

"What a treat! Reminiscent of Joanne Harris's bestselling novel, Chocolat, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is heaped with heart and topped with the sweetest sprinkle of magic, creating a literary and culinary feast. Infused with ancient traditions and tantalizing recipes, Roselle Lim cooks up a mouth-watering tale that's sure to delight!"--Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List


My Review


Y’all, I liked Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune SO much I’m leaving my star rating at the TOP of the review instead of at the end. This is one of my favorite books so far this year and is the perfect beach read. (Or waiting for your kiddo to finish practice/dance lessons/dentist appointment read.) IF you are a fan of magical realism (like me), this is the book for you.

For Natalie, food is tightly entwined with her family and her memories. This book centers around food – what she cooks, her mother and grandmother’s relationship with food and their recipes – as much as her complex relationship with her mother.

Lim’s writing is so sumptuous and magical and VISUAL:

“Tears slid down my cheeks. Tiny crystals sang a sorrowful melody against my skin before trickling down into a glittering pile on my lap.”

Magical, because Natalie’s tears left tiny crystals, which her mother had collected and saved in a bowl.

The food descriptions were also deliciously vivid and gorgeous and made me hungry! While many recipes are included for interest, they become a creative plot device here. Natalie’s grandmother’s cookbook included descriptions which explained how each recipe could be used to help aid a particular need; they are magic in their own right.

Her characters are delightful (even when infuriating). Natalie is flawed and bruised and angry – and full of FEELINGS as she returns home; her character is complex. The author also paints a vivid sense of place; you can imagine and feel the tiredness of the neighborhood. The plot was entertaining, and there are a few bits I didn’t see coming which tied up the story neatly.

My only wish for this book was that she had further developed the relationship blooming between Natalie and Daniel. There was chemistry but not enough interaction between the two of them.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune explores the relationships between daughters and mothers, mental illness, and community and culture. This is a story of forgiveness and healing and understanding, as well as one of following your dreams. There is an ethereal, magical feel throughout, and was a wonderful escape.

Roselle Lim’s debut novel left me hungry for more from her. I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve for her next book!

You can grab a copy of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune on Amazon by clicking here OR find it at your local indie bookshop by clicking here!

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