Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Title:     The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
Author:   Jenny Colgan
Rating:   ★★★1/2
Published date: February 4, 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark
*ARC from Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley

Jenny Colgan has become one of my favorite chick lit authors because of her recent books with cupcake/baking (read my review of Meet Me at the Cupcake Café and Christmas at the Cupcake Café) because that's like combining two of my favorite things: books and baked goods! Then she comes up with something even better: a combination of my three loves: books, chocolate, and Paris. And in true recent-Jenny Colgan writing style, I finished the book with a smile on my face, and feeling that the hours spent reading The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris were all worth it.

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.

As with her Cupcake Café books, Jenny Colgan weaves a light-hearted story that sounds too good to be true (but very possible) -- and one that I desperate wish I could live. Colgan paints a pretty picture of Paris, but combines realism and the usual girlish fantasy: the cramped quarters in old Parisienne buildings with no elevators, the twisting alleys and hidden nooks that you could get lost in combined with the romanticism of the cobbled alleys, the beautiful views overlooking the city, the gastronomic offerings of Paris, hot French's all here. I love that it didn't seem too fantastic to be un-believable.

Anna Trent is easy to relate to, (although her accident not so much), and I like that she's not your typical towering, lithe, perfect goddess of a woman, and neither is she a woe-is-me pitiful waif. Instead, she's real, she's nice, she's not jaded, and she's helpful. I think Colgan did a good job of writing about everyday, real-life characters whose existence are not so improbable. And even though I cannot relate to Anna Trent's experiences, I had a lot of fun living vicariously through her -- which is really my reason for reading romance/chick lit books anyway.

There is a sub-plot going on in here, with several flashbacks to provide the background for the unending love of Claire and Thierry. Surprisingly, I was both sad that Claire passed away and happy about how Thierry and Alice's love story ended up. I felt like the outcome of both of Thierry's relationships to Claire and Alice were justified. I feel sad that Claire and Thierry didn't get married but they both lived good lives, and well, Claire still had a sad-happy ending, which is better than a purely sad ending.

The only thing I didn't like about The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris was that the relationship between Anna and Laurent felt forced, or a case of insta-love, which is something I didn't expect. A few more pages of getting to know each other beyond a date that ended in disaster and some chocolate-making lessons didn't really make me believe that they have fallen in love.

Unlike her other Cupcake Café books, the recipes are instead included in the end, and I don't think the recipes were used/mentioned throughout the book. This time, chocolate was being made. Are there really hand-crafted chocolate artisan shops in Paris? By golly, that's just another justified reason to use up my savings and visit Paris.

The cover of the book is really pleasing to the eyes, although it doesn't give off that romantic vibe that I got from the story. However, it does capture that mix of intricate vibe (which I got from Thierry's chocolates)  and lightness of the story. I wish it had a hat though -- and I'm not going to tell you why it needs a hat; it's a pretty good tidbit - promise!

I was expecting the chocolate shop to be described as kitschy, homey, whimsical -- something along the decor of the cupcake shops proliferating in the metro nowadays,and my imagination was also influenced by the book cover. But in my mind's eye while reading the book, I envisioned it as an old-fashioned shop with barely any room, and no room for visitors to hang around after buying the famed chocolate. The store is not dusty, but it's definitely old and very alluring -- because of Thierry's charm and the fame of the shop itself. I don't know if I'll call my imagined chocolate shop "lovely" but it's definitely something wonderful.

Overall, it's another good-vibes-inducing book by Jenny Colgan, and one that I'm really, really glad I read. I didn't like Colgan's earlier works (i.e. Amanda's Wedding) so I'm hoping she'll continue producing more stories along the same vein.

Advance Happy Valentines Day! :)


  1. I like how it sounds light hearted and gives good vibes.

  2. This book sounds like lots of fun, and your description of the setting makes me want to read it. Especially when it comes to books that take place in different countries, I like to be swept up into the place's backdrop and culture. I would pick up this book just to get a free trip to Paris!

    1. Oh! I love your comment. I really want to go to Paris, and this book helped me visualize it more. :)

  3. I recently just started dabbling on baking and loved it so this books like its really gun especially if recipes are included! :)

    Too bad about the insta-love, its a pet peeve of mine but the fact that you still ended up loving the book feels like despite that, there's more to the story than the romance.

    1. Baking is a frustration of mine, so I never get to try out the recipes, but I still enjoy reading them in the book! I hope you get to bake some of the chocolates here :)

  4. I must try her work one of these days. I love stories like this, never failto make me feel the cuddlies

  5. It sounds like heaven...the most romantic city, the most sensual food, the best looking men :)

  6. As you saw I'm reading this too :D. I've been to Paris so many times and reading this is making me want to go back...which I am, in 2 weeks time :D

    1. Really? Oh my gosh, you lucky girl! Je suis très envious! ;(


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