on 30 November 2009
I dithered between 3 and 4 for this one. It was a compelling, although fairly short book and quite interesting, but the main character wasn't very relatable. She had a fascinating life but I was just unable to sympathise with her. Some descriptions also fell a bit flat, which made me wonder if something was lost when it was translated from the original French. I did enjoy this book, but it's not one that I'd go out of my way to recommend.
on 30 December 2010
As an enthusiastic Francophile, I was very interested to read this translation of the original French novel.
The story begins with the opening of Myriam's retaurant, 'Chez Moi'. We instantly get the impression of a woman alone, banking everything on the success of this business. She tells us that she has given her friends and family the wrong opening date. As the novel progresses, we learn more about Myriam's past. She is a wounded, fragile character yet she doesn't know it. Myriam doesn't ask for sympathy but gets it in the form of Ben, the waiter who transforms the restaurant, Vincent, the florist from next door and essentially, each and every one of her customers.
This novel promised to be 'an uplifting read' in the same vein as 'Chocolat' and in some respects it was; a woman trying to escape from something in her past, opening a new venture alone and using food as a form of expression. Although it was a warm and charming book, unfortunately it did not come close to the beautiful descriptions, enchanting recipes or charisma of 'Chocolat'. It may well be that some of the original sensuality of writing was lost in translation.
I would recommend this novel as it was a charming read and the mystery of Myriam's past keeps the pages turning. The characters are warm and the atmosphere of the restaurant will make you long for a cafe au lait and a slice of carrot and walnut cake at 'Chez Moi'.