Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo

Courtesy UWAP

Set at a quiet resort in
Bali, Sustenance looks at the use of food as a means of both spiritual and
physical comfort when all hope is gone.

A warning; hotel chef Perpetua
de Mello will have you drooling over the pages so try not to ruin your book,
especially if it’s from the library!
On a different level,
Sustenance tackles the big themes of family, love, self-worth and what remains
when death comes knocking.
About Sustenance
“Find yourself at The
Elsewhere Hotel” the brochure claims, and this is what the host of characters
in Simone Lazaroo’s new novel have come to Bali to do.  The Bali bombings are in the past and the
travellers from Australia and France have ventured to the Elsewhere Hotel to escape
from their real lives for a while.
It is a picture-perfect
holiday destination – a pool with a bar and private villas set amongst lush
tropical gardens at the foot of the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of
life.  To top it all off, Perpetua is a
chef who can take one look at a guest and know what it is that they need.
Amongst the mix are a range
of couples including newlyweds and those trying to escape the reality of
affairs and depression; a single career girl who really needs to “chill out”
and stop worrying about what everyone thinks of her; a food writer named Rex
Broadfoot who has an interest in Perpetua and a French family reeling from the
shock of a recent health diagnosis.
When the guests are taken
hostage and an overnight siege ensues, it is Perpetua who emerges as the
heroine as she calms both the guests and their captors in the only way she
knows how – through food.
Not knowing if they will
live through the night, the siege effects each character differently as they
reflect on the true worth of their life that they have lived.
Characters in Sustenance
Perpetual de Mello is one of
the most compassionate and likeable characters I have come across in literature
in recent years. She hails from a mixed multicultural background and her
Australia father Oswald is part-owner of the hotel though his health is
deteriorating. Her deceased mother Mercedes is responsible for her passion and
knowledge of food.
Perpetua lost her son Manuel
when he was very young and when her husband cheated on her and all hope was
gone she travelled back to Bali from Perth to find her father who had left when
she was only young.
Perpetua’s love and respect
for food will have the reader looking at what they put in their mouth with a
new appreciation.
About Simone Lazaroo
Simone Lazaroo was born in
Singapore and moved to Western Australia in the 1960s. She is currently a
senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Murdoch University in Perth.
Other works include The
World Waiting to be Made, The Australian Fiancé and The Travel Writer.  All three books were winners of the Western
Australian Premier’s prize for fiction.
Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo (UWA Publishing, 2010, ISBN:97817442580715 (pbk), 286
pages).
My
rating: ★★★★

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