Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Review: The Ingredients of Love

Author: Nicholas Barreau
Publication Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

 A charming restaurant

A book and its mysterious author

A little secret

A romantic meeting

Paris and all its magic . . .

Cyrano de Bergerac meets Chocolat and Amélie in this intelligent, charming, and entertaining publishing sensation from Europe.
While in the midst of a breakup-induced depression, Aurélie Bredin, a beautiful Parisian restaurateur, discovers an astonishing novel in a quaint bookshop on the Ile Saint-Louis. Inexplicably, her restaurant and Aurélie herself are featured in its pages. After reading the whole book in one night, she realizes it has saved her life—and she wishes more than anything to meet its author. Aurélie’s attempts to contact the attractive but shy English author through his French publishers are blocked by the company’s gruff chief editor, André, who only with great reluctance forwards Aurélie’s enthusiastic letter. But Aurélie refuses to give up. One day, a response from the reclusive author actually lands in her mailbox, but the encounter that eventually takes place is completely different from what she had ever imagined. . . . Filled with books, recipes, and characters that leap off the page, The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau is a tribute to the City of Light

“During the day we both went our own ways. I was never quite sure what Claude did in the evenings when I was working in the restaurant. Perhaps I just didn’t want to know. But at night, when loneliness descended over Paris, when the last bars had closed and only a few night owls walked shivering on the streets, I lay in his arms and felt safe.” – Paperback Copy pg. 7

“Bernadette’s apartment is full of books. They sit around in tall bookshelves that stretch over the door frames, they lie around on dining tables, desks, coffee tables, and bedside tables, and even in the bathroom I discovered to my amazement a few books lying on a small table next to the toilet.” – Paperback Copy pg. 15

“If I’d read this story in a novel, I would have found it highly amusing. If you yourself have to play the comic hero in the story, it’s no longer quite so funny.” – Paperback Copy pg. 94

“Whenever I saw the Eiffel Tower thrusting so bold and indestructible into the Paris sky, I would think proudly of my great-grandfather, an engineer and prolific inventor who had been involved in the construction of that impressive monument of iron and steel.” – Paperback Copy pg. 117

The Eiffel Tower sold me. Sadly the story line did not. Aurélie, a beautiful Parisian restaurateur, has just been dumped by her long-time serious boyfriend, Claude. In order to overcome the recent depression, set in by the break-up, Aurélie begins wandering the streets hoping that anything can take her mind off Claude. Conveniently she stumbles into a quaint little book store and finds a book that immediately catches her eye. She takes it home and reads it all the way through in one night, proclaiming that it has changed her life. She comes to the conclusion that she must meet the author and let her know just how much he has helped her come through this devastating time in her life.

Okay, so to be honest I thought that they storyline had some massive potential, but it just seemed like everything fell into place too quickly. There were a lot of convenient moments when I found myself saying, out loud, that was convenient! When Aurélie meets the author, Andre, it seemed to cliché to me as well. I mean he meets her one time and falls in love with her and wants to marry her etc. This just really bothered me and I am not sure if it was just the character development that bothered me so much or how they came across to me, as the reader. Aurélie seemed immature at times and Andre was almost too perfect. I wanted some crazy twist in the story, but after they met it was pretty much uphill for them for the most part. Everything was just incredibly predictable, to the degree that I almost wanted to put down the book.

Not all parts of this book did I dislike. I loved Paris, as I always do, and I thought the description and detail of the city was amazing. I loved exploring the sights alongside Aurélie and Andre, and my favorite part is to experience a place as magnificent as Paris in the way that the characters do. Their reaction to the scenery, places, and people that they come into contact with is the best part about reading a far off destination like this one. Paris stood out to me more than the characters or the story line, and I would say that this is a pretty significant problem. Next week I won’t remember Aurélie or Andre, but I will remember the beauty that Barreau described to be Paris!

***A big thank you to the publishers at St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

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