The Confectioner’s Tale, by Laura Madeleine

3 Jun

confectionerFormat: e-ARC, 336 pages

Publisher: Black Swan

Published: May 21, 2015

ISBN: 9781784160722

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Take a moment to savour an evocative, bittersweet love story that echoes through the decades – perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop.

My review: When I reached the end of this book, I couldn’t help but think that Jim Stevenson deserved his years of guilt and regret for what he did to Gui and Jeanne. The details of his misdeed form the basis of this fantastic debut novel, which tells the story of Gui and Jeanne’s love in Paris in 1910, alternating with investigations into the tale in 1988 by Stevenson’s granddaughter, Petra. Petra finds an old photo and a note expressing her journalist grandfather’s apologies, and must battle the clock and his nasty biographer to solve the mystery behind them. Her chapters alternate with the story of provincial Gui du Frere, who comes to Paris to work for the railway and ends up an apprentice pastry chef at the city’s top patisserie. He falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Jeanne Clermont, but their love is a huge scandal in those class-divided times.

I absolutely loved this story and was gripped by Petra’s search to uncover the truth. She loses a lot when she devotes herself to the search, but gains a love interest and there are a quite few laughs along the way. Gui’s story is heartbreaking and I’m not sure if Petra fully uncovers the horrifying details of Jim’s betrayal, as that chapter is told from Gui’s POV. The author describes the grimy backstreets of Paris in fetid detail, and captures the delicate confections of the patisserie with the knowledge of an expert baker. I was initially attracted to this book by the deliciously beautiful cover, and the content matched it perfectly. This is a great debut and I look forward to whatever Laura Madeleine writes next. Highly recommended.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

5cupcakes

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

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