Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris - by Jenny Colgan: Book Review

Title: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
Author: Jenny Colgan
Pages: 416
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: 06.08.2019
Genre: Women's Fiction, Food Novels
Format: Kindle

Although the novel promises to deliver a romantic story, it's flat; the romance comes as an afterthought. Once we get past the 50-60% mark in the novel, it seems the author remembered there was too little of the love aspect and hurriedly adds it. It reads artificial. Anna falls in love, presumably, with a man she suddenly finds attractive or handsome, but we're not buying it. It's not natural, it's too sudden, and... well... unromantic.

Not even Claire and Thierry's love story impresses. She fell in love with a selfish man and she basically pined after him her whole life. He did nothing to get her back. Now that I've finished reading the novel, I can clearly see how unlikeable Thierry is as a person. As a charismatic chocolate maker and seller, sure, he is the most charming. But I'm not fooled. I'm not buying his and Claire's love story either. However, comparing the two love stories, I found Anna and Laurent's worse.

Anna, the main character, has the aura of the perfect undercover woman. She knows not about her abilities, clearly. She can change Laurent, she is the trigger that leads to the two men's relationship mending. And how sudden that happens! We learn so much about it because it happened towards the end of the novel and we were too busy trying to wrap our minds around Anna and Laurent's new found passion for one another. Let us not forget, Laurent is attracted to Anna because she acts not interested in him and she likes to eat. That she finds herself physically attracted to him and jumps into impromptu kissing... well, this comes past the 85% mark. Of course she knows she loves him because he's good looking. Sound reason to jump into a... thing? relationship? We don't know.

Speaking of we don't know... Does Anna decide to stay in Paris for the foreseeable future? Is this her life? We're left guessing, just as she was doing before Paris and after the hospital stay. I guess it's enough if you find a love partner and you work in a chocolate shop, but just say this is what she decides. It was vague.

If it's not clear so far, the ending is rushed. Claire's preparations to visit Paris one last time were more interesting to read about than the actual visit and time spent there. Not to mention, they took longer to tell about than the visit.
Honestly, what I wanted to read more about was the chocolate shop in Paris. I was more interested in seeing where the shop will move forward and I like the path - Laurent becoming the governing force and giving Thierry a much needed slower pace.

I think this novel tried to present two Paris rose-colored love stories, but neither convinced me. It dawned on me that for Jenny Colgan the love stories come as an afterthought, a second priority. Her love of food is contagious and I am more interested in that aspect in this novel. Of course I can only base this opinion thinking of the other novels of hers I've read: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe and The Cafe by the Sea. The Cafe was the one I liked best.

I can't recommend this one. I am sure there are other better Jenny Colgan novels, with more character development, as this one lacked in that department.

I received a free e-book copy of the novel from the publisher via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

Characters List (might contain spoilers!):
Kidinsborough, UK - Anna's hometown. her parents live there. Claire's hometown. She lived there with Richard and their boys
Anna Trent - chocolate taster at the Braders Family Chocolates factory
Cath - Anna's best friend
Darr - Anna's ex-boyfriend
Dr. Er - Anna's doctor after her work accident
Mrs. Claire Shawcourt - Anna's French teacher. the two become good friends. Claire sends Anna to Paris after her release from the hospital to work at a chocolate shop. Claire has cancer. she's divorced
Thierry Girard - Claire's lover when she was 17 and travelled to Paris to work as a nanny for the two children of her mother's pen pal. he's now sick and very fat
Le Chapeau Chocolat de Thierry Girard - Thierry's chocolate shop
Mme Marie-Noelle LeGuarde - Claire's mother's pen pal
Benoit - works for Thierry. a family job for generations
Laurent Girard - Thierry's son with an Algerian woman. she died. A fued between the two because they can't agree on the best flavour to add to chocolate
Alice - Thierry's wife. English
Rev. Marcus - Claire's father
Ricky and Patsy - Claire's son and daughter-in-law
Cadence and Codie - Ricky and Patsy's children
Richard Shawcourt - Claire's ex-husband
Sami - Ann'a flatmate in Paris

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