Today I am delighted to be hosting the Blog Tour for To Lahore, With Love by Hina Belitz.
A truly feel-good novel to warm the heart, tickle the taste buds and take you on the journey of a lifetime
Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness.
When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her entire world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life for ever.
It’s during times like these that I am reminded of just how important reading is. When life is diffciult it can prove the perfect escape. There are times though when even the most ardent of readers find it difficult. I myself have struggled of late. The world is currently a scary place and our lives and routines have been quite simply turned upside down. For me this all came to a head when we lost our cat at the end of last week. He was a very splendid cat and it’s only when you lose somethign that you realise how much colour and light they bring to the world. I was heartbroken and emotional and the last thing I felt like doing was reading. Now, I imagine you are wondering why I have started this way. Well I just want you to know how low I felt, so low that I didn’t even want to escape into a book. But I had this blog tour coming and so I decided to try a few pages to see if I could rouse myself from my sadness and enjoy the story. And the wonder of Hina’s beautiful storytelling reminded me that the best medicine for a broken heart is to pick up a book and disappear into it’s world.
To Lahore, With Love is a beautifully written, richly layered, atmospheric and tantalising story that I found incredibly uplifting. The subjects of love, heartbreak, dual heritage and family secrets were combined into the most stunning recipe. Hina’s writing working like an expert chef to bring the ingredients together creating a dish that is as memorable as it is enchanting. I adored Addy. She was funny, courageous and so full of heart that I couldn’t help but fall in love with her and her unique family. She also has a love affair with food and there is so much in this story that reminds us of the importance of food. The memories it can conjure, the sense of home and comfort and where we come from. I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for any author who can write food well ever since I first fell in love with Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Hina ticks this box perfectly, the food coming alive so I could almost taste it. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes too!
Addy is mixed race and brought up by a catholic mother and a muslim grandmother. Her father left when she was very young, something that she has never recovered from and like many young children blamed herself for. Now years later her husband has left too. The two men in life who she should have been able to rely on. So when her Nana suggest she returns to her families homeland of Lahore she decides to go. And so do we. Hina whisks us away to sights, sounds and smells of this rich vibrant place. In Lahore, Addy finds there are more secrets waiting for her but most importantly she finally finds her own acceptance of who she is.
This is a wonderful read, I haven’t quite finished it – I couldn’t bear to rush through and I’m not quite read to say goodbye yet. there is so much to love about it. It has been an absolute tonic to read though and reminds me of just how precious authors such as Hina Belitz are, they help us find the rainbows when it rains.
Thak you so much to the wonderful Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to Headline Review for sending me my beautiful review copy. My final thanks must go to Hina. I can’t tell you how glad I am that your story came into my life when it did. It lifted my spirits and brought back a little of the colour and light that had recently left my world.
If you’d like to order a copy then why not purchase through your local bookshop or at Hive.co.uk.
About the author
HINA BELITZ is an author and renowned equal rights lawyer. Born in
Pakistan to an Indian father and a mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian
descent, Belitz was brought up in Hampshire – a place starkly different to her
parent’s home city of Lahore, and where she was the only Asian person in her
school. Her debut novel, SET ME FREE, was critically acclaimed and led to her
being interviewed by Morgan Freeman and starring in a National Geographic
documentary about love. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications
including the Guardian and the BBC.
A lot of the narrative in TO LAHORE, WITH LOVE has its roots in Hina’s own
life experience, she can write pieces on: Normalising Asian stories, food and
identity, diversity in literature, careers and women, surviving heartbreak,
fertility and growing up in the English countryside, amongst other topics.
You can follow Hina on Twitter at @Hina_Belitz
And for those who understand my grief here is a picture of my glorious Mr Perry. I’ll never forget you and the joy you gave us.