Early this week, Jenny Colgan celebrated the release of THE LOVELIEST CHOCOLATE SHOP IN PARIS from Sourcebooks Landmark (link).
Inside Paris's premiere chocolate shop, sometimes dreams really can come true.
It's true that Anna Trent is a supervisor in a chocolate factory...but that doesn't necessarily mean she knows how to make chocolate. And when a fateful accident gives her the opportunity to work at Paris's elite chocolatier Le Chapeau Chocolat, Anna expects to be outed as a fraud. After all, there is a world of difference between chalky, mass-produced English chocolate and the gourmet confections Anna's new boss creates. But with a bit of luck and a lot of patience, Anna might learn that the sweetest things in life are always worth working for.
Hopeful, laugh-out-loud funny, and irresistibly addictive, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris is a novel worth savoring.
With an apple I will astonish Paris. - Paul Cezanne
Thierry Gerard is an artist … in chocolate. He became a master with fresh ingredients. Locals and tourists alike flock to his shop for the luxurious and expensive treats. His confidence sets the tone of this book – grab life and love it. He is also the connection between two English ladies hospitalized in a failing industrial town. Anna slipped a chocolate factory and lost two toes. During her recuperation, she realizes that she is sharing a hospital room with her high school French teacher, Claire.
Claire watched Anna waste her talent in school … and sees Anna grow depressed following her accident. So Claire pays it forward – she asks Thierry to give Anna a summer job at Le Chapeau Chocolat - the Chocolate Hat. Paris opens Anna’s world, much like it did for 17 year old Claire when she arrived in Paris. She came as an informal nanny and left as the master’s muse – Thierry’s muse.
Colgan is a master in transplanting the reader in the City of Light as Parisians know it – the cobblestone alleyways that lead to cozy eateries steaming with gourmet food and underground parties flanked with colorful denizens. Likewise, Colgan inspires readers to indulge in making chocolate from scratch as Anna learns from the master. The process is a metaphor on how Anna comes up to scratch in finding herself … and recognizing her own self worth.
Colgan employs several literary devices to breathe life into parallel love stories which span two generations. When Anna first injures herself, Colgan’s writing is almost sophomoric. But I believe it spotlighted Anna’s one dimensional life. Likewise, the story is told from Anna’s first person perspective – it was pure joy to see a new world unfold from Anna’s eyes. The notable exception is the flashbacks of Claire’s journey to Paris – these are told in third person for clarity.
I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected twist that brought the characters together for a heartfelt reunion. This is a story of second chances, cultural expansion, and delicious chocolate. One scene stands out – Anna is offered a mass produced chocolate bar. Even though she knows it is made with inferior ingredients, she enjoys it because chocolate is chocolate. Perhaps that is the bottom line – life is too short to quibble how the chocolate is made.
Colgan also offers recipes for home made chocolate treats.
Recommended read for those who enjoy “fish out of water” stories. THE LOVELIEST CHOCOLATE SHOP IN PARIS deliver warmth, humor, and that gushy feeling that comes from chocolate.
I received a review copy from Sourcebooks Landmark for my honest perspective.
Kim in Baltimore
To learn more about Jenny and her books, check out her website at jennycolgan.com.