Good reads are often the topic of discussion between colleagues at my place of work. One morning, my co-worker mentioned this book she was reading about a girl who moved to Paris to work in one of those typical Parisian chocolate shops, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan. So I was inclined to pick it up, me being a Paris lover, perhaps not so much a chocolate one (due to the unwanted KGs on the hips and too high a sugar rush when over indulging : )
The star of the story is Anna, a typical English girl who is reunited with her ex-teacher of French, Claire, due to an unfortunate event. The book starts off on a not-so-happy note, but it serves as a good contrast to the adventure about to unfold. This is paralleled with that of Claire who had also experienced Paris as a young girl, and she puts Anna in touch with an old flame – a famous chocolatier.
Another star in this sweet Parisian tale is Anna’s audacious omnisexual flatmate, Sami – a striking figure, not so much for the number of times he makes an appearance than the bold and bright colours that he dons – a perfect mirror for his showy character. And of course, he introduces her to Laurent…
Alice, on the other hand is the “witch” in this novel – an English woman who strives to be as Parisian as possible and can’t stand the British, especially those that hung out at the Shakespeare and Co bookshop and other such Anglophone places in the city.
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris is more faithful to the art of chocolate making than it is to portraying the true picture of the city. A case in point is when Sami and Anna are walking around the Place de la Concorde and must take a bus to Montmartre. They have to cross the bridge, when in fact there is no bridge between this square and Montmartre.
There are some lines on the process of hand-making and conching chocolate, which I found rather interesting. Colgan does capture the aura of Montmartre though – the clinking glasses and snippets of conversation heard from out of nowhere, the faint “scent of garlic and onions and oil simmering in a kitchen”, cellars transformed into smoky night-time venues. While reading some descriptions, I could recall walking through the steep and narrow alleyways flanked by typical ivy-covered walls. The mention of the smoking ban not being observed in the city, by the way, is spot on.
It’s an easy and entertaining read, the story perhaps a bit prolonged, but perfect for that cosy bedtime moment.
I have one important suggestion: Do not read this book only if you have trouble staying away from chocolate. It will get you craving for the feel-good delights and also comes with a number of irresistible chocolate recipes. Hmm, however there are many good aspects to chocolate. One of them is the endorphins or happy hormones it releases in the body. So perhaps I may be excused! Get hold of this book and simply enjoy it!
Colgan’s Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’s Sweet Shop is out next month, so look out for that too.