Book Review: The Little Breton Bistro by Anne George

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Title: The Little Breton Bistro
Author: Nina George
Publication Date: March 2017

Synopsis: "Marianne Messman longs to escape her loveless marriage to an uncaring husband - an artillery sergeant major named Lothar. On a day trip to Paris, Marianne decides to leap off the Pont Neuf into the Seine, but she is saved from drowning by a homeless man. While recovering in hospital, Marianne comes across a painting of the tiny port town of Kerdruc in Brittany and decides to try her luck on the coast.

In Kerdruc, Marianne meets a host of colourful characters who all gravitate around the restaurant of Ar Mor (The Sea). It is this cast of true Bretons who become Marianne's new family, and among whom she will find love once again. But with her husband looking to pull her back to her old life, Marianne is left with a choice: to step back into the known, or to take a huge jump into an exciting and unpredictable future."

My thoughts: I'm not sure why, but at the start of this year I went through a bit of a reading slump. I was reading quite a few books at the time, stopping and starting things regularly, but I just couldn't settle to anything and I found I was getting little enjoyment out of anything. This is when my mum pressed a copy of The Little Paris Bookshop (George's first book) into my hands. I was sceptical at first, but the characters quickly won me over and I found myself thinking about the book even when I wasn't reading it.

My reading of The Little Breton Bistro was very similar to that experience. Though I will say that I probably enjoyed this one even more, as I found I related to the characters, particularly Marianne, even more. (I am not, by any means, in a loveless marriage, but things that Marianne thinks about later in the book pulled on a thread inside me.)

George seems to have this fantastic ability to write really wonderful characters that you want to know more about - she also writes pain, and the vast measures needed to be taken to move away from that pain, superbly. This is a book of deep feeling, and I can't help wanting to pick it back up and read it again (in fact, I had that impulse immediately upon finishing it) just because I am thinking about it. George's writing is so beautiful and a wonder to read, and just ever-so-slightly on the edge of magical realism at times, that you feel as if you are being drawn into a different world.

I have a feeling that if I keep trying to write about this book I am just going to regress into childish gushing of noises rather than words. Basically, please give George's work a go. I hope it strikes a chord within you, too.

[I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!]

A favourite line from the book: 'When she glanced up, her eyes met a smiling face. This woman could bounce back from failure, that much was clear; her big bright eyes sparkled. Their gazes met, and Marianne snapped her eyelids shut again. She couldn't understand why the woman was staring at her like this. But she also wanted to store it away in her memory - the faint glimmer in her eye, the mauve cheeks, the sun playing in her hair.'

You would like this book if: you enjoy gentle stories with deep feelings.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I am honestly not sure. I feel like the descriptions of food in parts of this book might make you hungry, so maybe have a meal whilst reading!

Rating:  10/10

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