I read because I love being transported: to different times, situations, and places. I love chick lit because I relish reading about women who, like me, are fumbling through life a bit, but in the end are given a chance at happiness – I’m all about the happy ending. Jenny Colgan is one author I can rely on to give me everything I want in a romantic comedy.
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris was an opportunity for me to be transported to the exciting, classy, ritualistic hustle and bustle of Paris. Anna Trent has decided to journey across the channel after an unfortunate accident causes her, not only to lose her job, but also two of her toes. With the help of her former French teacher, Claire, Anna heads to Paris for a short-term work placement in a world famous Parisian chocolate shop. Living in a shoebox-sized attic flat with eccentric costumier, Sami, and working under master chocolatier, Thierry (and Claire’s first love), Anna discovers the joy – and pains – of the many new experiences a foreign city can bring – handsome French men included.
Anna’s is not the only story we follow in The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris. We also read Claire’s story, about her summer holiday spent in Paris as an au pair. Sharing much of Anna’s excitement and anguish, only many years earlier, the teenaged Claire became a woman while in Paris. She also fell in love with a chocolate maker with big dreams of becoming a success, and even decades later, has never truly reclaimed her heart.
The two life – and love – stories of Anna and Claire, mirror each other perfectly, and are a reminder that the very things that make us human change very little over time; it is these same fundamental human experiences that allow us to connect with others. The experiences of, and relationship between, Anna and Claire will make you laugh, will warm your heart and don’t be surprised if you possibly shed a tear, but of the good kind.
Surrounding these richly drawn protagonists are a very colourful cast of supporting characters. And the division between them is very evident. Short of Anna’s best friend, the English characters are very, well, English. The French are all very, well, French, full of exuberance, arrogance, appetite, and pouty lips. From Sami, Anna’s flamboyant flatmate to the grunting Benoit at the chocolate shop, if you have a yearning for Paris, you’ll be booking your ticket when you’re done with this book. Colgan paints a wonderful, fun – and not inaccurate – portrayal of Paris and those who proudly call themselves Parisian.
Less a theme and more a character in its own right, there is one thing that deserves a special mention: chocolate. It received considerable attention in this book, and aptly so. Colgan’s descriptions had my mouth watering, and her flavours and concoctions were so outrageous, yet so plausible, that they did have me wondering where I might be able to track down some offerings to sample. Of course, I know the answer, for where else would I find such delectable fancies than in Paris. Truth be told, it was not just her descriptions of chocolate that had my tummy grumbling, but her presentation of Parisian food in general (I have had an insatiable hankering for risotto that I cannot shake since reading about it in this book!). There is no doubt that Colgan, like me, is a true and passionate foodie.
So, let’s face it, chocolate (the proper kind), Paris, gorgeous French men, new and old love – you can’t really go wrong. Add to that a pinch of drama, and some generous gratings of comedy, and chick lit fans are guaranteed to love The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris.