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First published in 2013 by Sphere. Paperback, 440 pages.
‘The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris’ is the 4th book I have read by Jenny Colgan, and I have enjoyed them all without exception. This is a gorgeous story, and it paints such an atmospheric picture with its descriptions of Paris and Parisian life. I am not much of a traveler, and have never particularly felt an urge to go to Paris, but this book actually made me want to go there and experience it for myself!
What’s it about?
The main character of the story is Anna, who starts out in hospital due to an accident at work. While she is there, she is reunited with her old French teacher, Claire, who is very ill with cancer. After Anna recovers, Claire persuades and arranges for her to go and work in Paris, in her former lover’s chocolate shop.
The story switches between the present (written in 1st person from Anna’s perspective), and the past, telling the story of Claire’s time in Paris 40 years ago. I found this fascinating, as details about Claire’s past were gradually revealed. It also created suspense in the storyline. Several times there was a cliffhanger in Anna’s story, and then it switched to a flashback to Claire’s. I just had to keep reading to find out what would happen next!
If you like chocolate, be prepared to get cravings for it if you read this book! There are lots of descriptions of the delicious chocolates that they make in the shop. You will definitely wish you were there so you could sample them all!
The characters are all very likeable, and there is plenty of romance in this book. You will find yourself smiling to yourself and cheering for the characters in the happy moments, and you may get tears in your eyes in the sad, poignant moments. The book is light-hearted but also very moving at times.
The book is generally very easy to read and understand, although there were a few parts that took me by surprise and I had to read over a passage several times to understand what had just happened. There was a good balance of description and action, seriousness and humour.
As with many of Jenny Colgan’s books, it contains a generous selection of recipes in the back. These are all chocolate based! I haven’t tried any of the recipes, and I probably won’t, but if you are a keen baker and you like sweet things, then the recipes would definitely be a bonus for you! They all look very indulgent and I wouldn’t call them healthy! You could probably adapt them for various dietary requirements though.
Would I recommend this book?
I’d thoroughly recommend this book to any chick-lit and chocolate lovers, and I would give it 4 out of 5. I own several more Jenny Colgan books, so I look forward to working my way through more of them!