The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

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This is the story of a young woman named Anna Trent, a thirty year old taster in a chocolate factory in a small town in England. The story begins with an accident at the factory where Anna is injured and loses two toes. Her stay in the hospital gets extended because of an infection that leaves her in a coma and almost costs her life.

When Anna wakes up, she recognizes the voice of the woman in the next bed as that of her old French teacher Mrs. Shawcourt , who is being given chemo treatments for cancer. Mrs. Shawcourt insisted that Anna call her Claire and soon they became close and supported each other during her prolonged stay.  Claire remembered Anna as a good student and she works with Anna to improve her French.

Anna’s parents and brother visited often and Claire’s sons and daughters-in-law help them both get through their hospital stay. As time goes on, Claire speaks of her experience as a young girl and the strict upbringing that she had. She tells Anna about the summer her life changed when a friend of her mother’s asked if Claire could come to Paris to work as a nanny for her two children. Her father reluctantly agreed and Claire was soon introduced to Mme. Leguarde and her family and to a completely different life.  While there she met a young man who was a chocolatier and she falls in love with him and Paris. Claire tells all of this to Anna in the hope that she will try to move past her accident and leave England and visit Paris.

At Claire’s suggestion, Anna decides to try and applies for a job at the chocolate factory that Claire’s first love has established. He is now an old man with a complicated life and the story unfolds many characters that enrich the story and Anna’s experience.

In an ironic turn of events, Anna helps to settle a long time feud between the old chocolatier and his son, and helps Claire fulfill a final wish. As she becomes aware of her own self-worth she sees a future for herself that she could not have imagined months before.

With great detail, Jenny Colgan describes the beauty of Paris and the culture differences that she learns to embrace.   Enjoy.

By Jane Flanders

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