Summary: 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.
My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Nina George’s The Little French Bistro reminded me of some of Jenny Colgan’s work, who is one of my favorite adult contemporary/British contemporary authors. Jenny Colgan’s books, such as Meet Me in the Cupcake Café and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, and The Little French Bistro all feature protagonists who are looking for a fresh start in life. However, George’s The Little French Bistro features an older protagonist named Marianne. Marianne and her husband, Lothar, have traveled from Germany to France to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. As romantic and glamorous as a trip for two to Paris may sound, Marianne is extremely unhappy with her marriage and the way her life turned out. Also taking a much darker route, Marianne attempts to commit suicide in the Seine River. I was taken a back a bit from the novel’s darker themes, as Marianne contemplates suicide a few more times in the novel as she lives in Brittany.
George provides an interesting juxtaposition between Marianne’s happiness with her new life and her anger over the past, but I feel that her wish for her life to end didn’t fit in with later themes. I also had trouble connecting with George’s writing style, which may explain my confusion over Marianne’s desires. I didn’t enjoy the sudden instances of French or Bruton folklore, and I found it a bit confusing when French was incorporated (coming from a reader who’s only studied Italian and didn’t remember a drop of it). I read a translated edition of The Little French Bistro, so perhaps some of George’s language and techniques were lost in translation.
However, I did enjoy The Little French Bistro for it’s seaside village of Brittany. Most of the novels I’ve read that take place in France center around Paris, so it was fun to explore a new setting. There is quite an eccentric cast of characters, and while I had some trouble keeping track them, it was really sweet to see them become close to Marianne. I also liked getting multiple third person close POVs.
Overall, The Little French Bistro wasn’t my cup of tea, but I think older readers or readers who have gone through similar struggles like Marianne can relate to the novel more. The Little French Bistro seems to be much-loved and read novel, so I’m glad it’s now part of my read pile.
I received The Little French Bistro from Blogging for Books for this review.
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