My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ARC Review: The Little French Bistro by Nina George

Please note:  I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.  

The Little French Bistro, by Nina George, takes takes the reader on a journey filled with colorful characters, sensuous food, and bucolic Brittany.  I appreciated that it showed love at many stages of life.  It was fun and romantic, just the sort of book I love to read in the summer.

What I Liked:
Marianne is a wonderfully realistic character.  At sixty, she has lost the will to live, or so she thinks.  When she tries (and fails) to kill herself, she comes to understand why she feels so trapped, and then slowly finds herself, and her joy.  I liked that Marianne became open to life and realized, through being kind to others, that she was worthy of love.  As the people in the small Brittany town responded to Marianne, she started to obtain her self-worth.  But, like most people, newly acquired confidence is a fragile thing.  Marianne still second-guesses herself, and then pushes people away.  She is not instantly self-aware, or confident.

The small village of Kerdruc, where Marianne finds refuge, is filled with colorful characters, many of whom seem to have missed a love connection.  Paul is still bitter over his divorce from Rozenn who has left him for a younger man (oh, the French!), the village bistro's chef, Jean-Remy, is pining away for waitress Laurine, while Genevieve (the hotel's owner) is bitter over a love affair that happened over thirty years ago.  

With all these missed romantic opportunities, one would think that love never wins, but there is also an example of a long-term marriage that is quite touching.  Emile struggles with his wife, Pascale's Alzheimer's but the couple remaine tender and loving.  I loved how respectful Emile was of his wife.  As much as he wanted to protect her, he also respected her enough to let her be in her own world, without nagging her.

There actually is a town in Brittany, France called Kerdruc.  When I looked it up on Google, I was delighted to see that the author's descriptions were spot on!

This seems like a charming town to visit.  But if you want to go there, I would do so soon.  I think this book is going to be very popular, so I would imagine that tourism to this part of France will go way up by next summer.

I got caught up in all the marvelous food descriptions.  From the fresh seafood to the desserts, my mouth was watering throughout this book.  I have never heard of a French Butter Cake, but now I want to make one!
Here is a website that has a lovely recipe for this decadent dessert: The Accidental Chef
What I Was Mixed About:
I will say that the author seemed to rely on various stereotypes of French and German people.  All the French characters seemed to be preoccupied with matters of love, while Marianne's German husband was miserly with his money, and his affections.  This made me curious about the author, Nina George, wondering if she was French.  Given that her last two books are basically love letters to that country, I was surprised to learn that she is from Germany! So much for my assuming anything!

Sexy Scenes:
While this book is nowhere near pornographic, there are some sex scenes in the book that are quite descriptive.  If you are trying to read only "clean" romance, this may not be the book for you.  Normally, I tend to back away from these scenes, but I thought they were well-done and needed for a certain character's development.

Overall, this was a wonderful book that made me think about life, love, food, and France.  Break out that wine and brie, and have a picnic while you read this book.






Release Date:  June 13th, 2017

Genre:  General Fiction

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:  This book will be a hit.  I see French-themed dinners at your next book club meeting!
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