by Georgina Crawshaw
To be honest, I’d never heard of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (or even These Foolish Things as it was originally titled) until Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and a whole host of other famous faces made it a big screen success. Of course, with a cast like that failure isn’t really an option, but would the book live up to my high expectations after belly laughing my way through the movie?
The good news is the paper version is sufficiently different to the screenplay that you don’t feel like they’re reinventing the wheel. But the basis of the story is the same; a group of seventy-somethings who up sticks and leave the UK to spend their twilight years at the ultimate retirement home – the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Bangalore, Southern India. This overseas retreat might not quite live up to the OAP oasis its guests expect; but as their tales unfold and begin to intertwine, they each discover a very individual affection for their new found home and the people they encounter there.
Take Norman Purse, the very definition of a dirty old man. Thrown out of countless residential homes for inappropriate behaviour he is the inspiration behind the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, set up by his long suffering son in law Ravi and Ravi’s cousin Sonny. Then there’s Evelyn Greenslade, a rather timid widow who has barely made a decision in her life – until now that is. Dotty Dorothy Miller, who was born and brought up in India, and Jean and Douglas Ainslie, a ‘happily’ married couple who thrive on adventure. Last but by no means least, Muriel Donnelly; one of the Marigold’s most unlikely residents. Her aversion to ‘darkies’ isn’t quite as deep routed as her conviction that India will lead her to Keith - the prodigal son, on the run after some dodgy dealings went wrong.
Add a few more eccentric characters to the mix, a pinch of sadness, a good helping of humour and a love interest or two and hey presto –you‘ve got yourself a winner.