Welcome to Summer Reads 2017 where I’ll be reviewing a series of “not just cookbooks”.
This weeks’ Summer Reads pick is a perfect beach read (or in my case, to be enjoyed on a terrace in Southwest France, surrounded by flowers and sipping rosé. Yes, really, this is how I read this book!) – Nina George‘s The Little French Bistro.
Overview (from the publisher)
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings.
Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as “the end of the world.”
Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it’s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.
With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.
I requested a review copy of this book because I absolutely loved George’s The Little Paris Bookshop (which I realise I never wrote about – must remedy that!). I found this a little harder to get into, admittedly because I was reading it in bits and pieces – it’s the type of book I think you might need to read in one or two sittings. There are a lot of characters to keep up with (this is not my forté when reading especially in fits and starts so perhaps that’s more of a reflection on me!) and I felt a little bit like the book started in the middle of a story and I was missing pieces of the backstory. Once I realised that I needed to read in longer stints, I was much better at following along. And, in fact, the story DOES begin in the middle of a story.
Marianne’s in her 60s but in a desperately unhappy marriage, seeing no way out but to take her own life. Instead of ending her life, though, she starts all over again, finding life (and love) in a tiny, picturesque village in Brittany. Now, I’m not typically a fan of romance novels but this is much more (though it’s definitely in that category). Nina George develops her characters beyond many authors and paints vivid and beautiful scenes. The back stories I thought I was missing were filled in though I still found it a little hard to keep track of everyone. And, I’ll admit I wish there had been more of a focus on food (!). With “bistro” in the title, I had imagined it might focus more on Marianne’s new job – as a chef – in the bistro but it’s only a small part of the story. There is a lot of Breton culture and history woven into the story which (having visited the region) I really enjoyed and overall, it’s a pleasant read (with a happy outcome, given it’s fairly bleak outlook at the start!).
If you’re looking for a book to enjoy on a beach, in a garden or perhaps during a long voyage this summer, love French culture and history and are a fan of the “it’s never too late to start over” genre of story, this is a great summer read for you!
Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and The Book Depository which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of “The Little French Bistro” for review purposes from the publisher. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.
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