Many authors who have written multiple books are recognizable not just by their style, but by common themes that reappear in each novel.
I had anticipated that it would not be too terribly different from “Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe” — similar characters, similar romantic circumstances, similarly based around food, but set in a different country.
I was looking forward to a book filled with all the things I imagine France and Paris to be, and I was not disappointed. The cultural setting is more predominant than the geographical, but both are given more than adequate attention, without detracting from the narrative.
This is a story about food and love, yes. There are people who don’t know that they are right for each other, and people who do know that they are right for each other. It is so much more than that, however.
There is a rather wide cast of characters, but each one is given as full a personality as their importance to the plot allows and/or dictates.
There is a personal growth and increasing sense of confidence in the main character that is satisfying to witness. She is likable, she is relatable, and she has a respectable moral compass.
There are mishaps, there is sex (they are, after all, in France), and there is humor, but it is applied judiciously and does not cheapen the book.
The secondary main character’s own tale is bittersweet. The happy parts are absolutely luscious, and though we know all along that hers is ultimately going to be a sad story, it is handled with grace and tenderness, and it ends up being somehow gratifying.
Jenny Colgan is a much better writer than one might think, given her genre and subject material. Her stories seem simple enough at first glance, like fluff, but (and I may have said this about the last book of hers that I read) there is an unexpected complexity and richness in her storytelling.
I truly enjoyed “The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris.” There was a great deal of sheer pleasure in it for me, with all the people going around being French, speaking French, eating like French people… that sort of thing.
I also found myself quite involved in the plot — really invested in the characters, and curious to know what they would do next — because it wasn’t formulaic, not at all.
I don’t have anything critical to say about this book. It didn’t blow me away, but it was honestly very good. I’m going to read more from this author, and I believe I’m going to enjoy myself doing it.