Oh my goodness. I thought this was going to be a typical, delightful, romantic bit of chick lit.
It’s. Way. More.
Former French teacher Claire nudges 30-something Anna to visit Paris, much as Claire was nudged to do decades ago. The novel occasionally flashes back to Claire’s summer in France as Anna’s story unfolds. The first half of the story seemed to be predictable chick lit, and a little bit slow, at that. As I read onward, the characters were developed further, the plot became more complicated, my heart became invested in the friendships and love affairs and marriages.
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris might ostensibly be a book about a 30-year old woman finally coming into her own, or a 60-year old woman fulfilling a bucket list, or a father and son making the best chocolate in France, but underneath is where you’ll find the heart of the story.
Anna learns how to love herself — and love a man. She can finally objectively see and appreciate her family and her safe life in England.
Laurent overcomes his pride and is able to really enjoy life, instead of fighting to rise above it all the time.
Thierry and Claire realize they’ve been selfish all these years, and in a last act of selfishness they free others from worrying about them.
I was totally impressed with the depth of this novel, the complexities of the relationships, and the clarity of what it means to really love someone. Colgan also explores the many reasons people marry … or do not, and the reasons they hold too tightly to each other … or not tightly enough.
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris fills up the reader with emotion, then empties her, just to fill her again with a warm, spreading sense of joy, akin to eating the best chocolate. And it ends with all the drama of a French opera. I loved it.