Review: AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS by Ovidia Yu

Summer in my part of the world brings some pretty intense temperatures and at such times I look for something light to read (when I can tear myself away from binge watching The Crown, a show I should have no interest in being a dedicated republican).

AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS is the first in what is to date a four book series of cosy style mysteries set in Yu’s native Singapore. The eponymous character, ‘Aunty’ Rosie Lee, is a wealthy widow who runs a restaurant known for its wonderful home-style cooking. Here she is hosting a series of banquets for her stepson’s latest business venture, a high-end wine club, when one of the regulars is found dead nearby.

For those who love travelling virtually via fiction there’s lots to enjoy about this book. Not only is it full of Aunty Lee’s divine-sounding food but there’s lots of local flavour in terms of language, behaviour and social commentary. Characters are a mix of ethnic Chinese, Indians, Malays and Filipinos as well as tourists from several countries which adds a realistic element to the story.

As far as the story itself goes I found AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS a bit patchy. I liked the overall mystery and its resolution, including its inclusion of an element that is both topical and quite specific to the location (I know that sounds almost pointlessly vague but I don’t want to give away too much). But a lot of this story hinges on how much the reader engages with Aunty Lee and I’m afraid I was a bit put off by the fact that she ticks every one of the boxes for this type of cosy mystery heroine (she is in the vein of Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe, though in my thinking not as successful a creation). While some of the minor characters in the book were quite nuanced and believable in the end Aunty Lee was for me over-the-top busy body type who didn’t always ring true.

Overall though the book was enjoyable enough for me to happily try another one in the series. The evocative setting, gentle humour and interesting array of minor characters provide more than many of the cosy mysteries I’ve cast aside due to their vapid nature.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Publisher Harper Collins, 2013
ISBN 9780062227164
Length 223 pages
Format eBook (ePub)
Book Series #1 in the Aunty Lee series
Source of review copy Borrowed from the library

This entry was posted in book review, Ovidia Yu, Singapore. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Review: AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS by Ovidia Yu

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    I’m glad you found some things to like about this one, Bernadette, even if it wasn’t quite as satisfying as you’d hoped. I do love the idea of the setting, and the premise sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    Intriguing, like Precious Ramotswe could be interesting — if I didn’t have a zillion books on my list.
    The Crown? All types of people i know like this show. And also being a republican (but not a Republican in the U.S.), I thought I wouldn’t like it. But it seems intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely not like Republican in the US – here it means someone who doesn’t think a Queen or King across the other side of the world should be our head of state. But I’m in the minority…and I do admire the current Queen – she is the very definition of someone driven by duty to the larger cause than her own needs & desires – in this day and age I think that is remarkable


Comments are closed.