Friday, July 24, 2015

Jenny Colgan - The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.
It's a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime - to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.
With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate - and herself - than she ever dreamed.

Comment: I purchased this book last year and it took me more than one year to read it. Still, this one actually held on for less time than many other titles in my TBR list.
Added to my initial will to read it, I suggested it to one of my book clubs and someone else is reading it, so I couldn't put it aside like I have to about other books I had scheduled for this month.  Unfortunately for me, it has been a crazy month for reading.
This is the story of Anna Trent, an Englishwoman who suffers an accident during her job and how she must deal with the consequences. In the hospital she meets again her old French teacher who encourages her to go to France to work at the chocolate shop of someone she knew there when she was younger.
Anna decides to take the chance and while in France there's a lot for her to discover and to learn, especially why the shop's owner, Thierry used to be so important for her teacher. But it's not just the people and the work that change Anna. She has a lot to deal with while still helping others...
Overall, I liked this story and I liked Anna. I can't help but notice all the details about British culture though, and some of them rather annoy me. I'm talking about the clubbing, the drinking. All novels I read that feature English people shows them drinking or talking about drinking so often. Even movies... I don't know but I can't help but notice these things. Although this doesn't actually affect any of Anna's behavior or her personality, I can't just ignore it...
Apart from the little details that catch my attention, I liked the main story. The book is centered around Anna and when we have her perspective, the narrator is herself, but we do have some passages from someone else's POV, usually third person. There's also those flashback scenes where we follow her old teacher, Claire, and Thierry when they were young. I don't mind these passages but sometimes I'd skim them because I don't think they are so important when we know what happens to them through other's conversations.
The plot is very interesting and I connected to Anna's difficulty to relate to a new place, a new way of living, new people and expectations...all this happened to her when she goes to France. I wanted her to succeed immediately, to be one of those people who can adapt easily, but we see how the beginning was complicated, even if without all the details and heaviness something like that must entail.
I liked how she worked hard and how she never changed her personality, even when we see her change in terms of believing in herself, in understanding her abilities. There's a lot of talk about chocolate which is good, considering the work she is doing, but it's not tiring to the point we can't stand reading about it.
There's romance. We see many references about Thierry and Claire's relationship and why things didn't work out. Anna and Laurent, Thierry's son, start to talk and deal with each other, mostly because of his father and they have a relationship. I think the love interest between Anna and Laurent wasn't as powerful as it could because despite happening in a sweet, almost believable way, it's not the focus of the story all the time, so it almost feels like it's not that important and that distracts from the romance of it.
All in all, I think this is a story with many interesting elements but some of them aren't used to the maximum of their capacity, it feels like some things were just skimmed, just there and not as complex and deep as they could.
But it's an interesting story. The book comes with recipes...I haven't tried but they sure help with the mood.
Grade: 8/10

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