Gladys Gatsby is an eleven year old who has been cooking gourmet dishes since she was five. Her parents have not a clue even when she nearly burns the kitchen down while making creme brulee using a discarded blow torch found in the garage. Instead her parents ban her from the kitchen urging her to engage in activities more appropriate for her age like playing on the tablet and surfing the internet. Soon she finds an opportunity to pay for the damages and indulge in her passion by becoming a freelance restaurant critic for a well known New York newspaper.
All Four Stars is well-written, light and funny. The excitement that Gladys has at spotting a Larousse Gastronomique at her neighbour’s or savouring samosas and gajjar ka halwa at her friend Parminder Singh’s home are palpable. ( All though Sikh women are only referred to as ‘Kaur’ not ‘Singh’ which is reserved for men.) The novel does not get weary with adults interfering or sermonising too much. They are not monsters. The other characters in the books like Mr Eng and his wonderful store of exotic food ingredients, Miss Quincy the new teacher, the friendly neighbour Sandy Anderson, the obnoxious and spoilt rich girl Charissa Bentley with a soft corner for delicious desserts, and her two girlfriends — Rolanda Royce and Marti Astin are equally entertaining.
All Four Stars is Tara Dairman’s debut novel. It has been brewing for ten years. It is due to be released in July 2014 with the sequel scheduled for 2015. It is book that will be enjoyed by young and older readers. It will be published by G. B. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group, USA.