Sunday, February 17

The Chocolate Lovers' Club - Carole Matthews

Lucy Lombard's life is in flux - she works as an office temp, and her boyfriend Marcus hasn't asked her to move in yet. But a constant in her life is chocolate. Any chocolate in a pinch, but for the worst crises and the best celebrations it has to be the amazing creations of Chocolate Heaven. A boutique chocolaterie, Chocolate Heaven is also where Lucy met her three best friends, fellow devotees - Autumn, whose hippy life seems to be on track, but nobody knows about her addict brother; Nadia, who chose her Western husband over her Asian family, before she knew he would gamble away their future; and wealthy Chantal, who'd give up all her money if only her husband would sleep with her.
In the best chick lit tradition, The Chocolate Lover's Club weaves their stories together and creates happy(ish) endings for them all. Also in the tradition, the heroine does stupid things for no good reason - for example, when she sees the guy she's got a date with walking down the street, even though they both have mobiles and she's driving a van full of expensive dresses to a fashion show, and even though, until she saw him, she hadn't been going to contact him, Lucy tries to get his attention, unexpectedly pulls to the side of the road, gets rear-ended, leaves the van unattended to run after said date, only to return to the van and discover the rear-enders have left without leaving insurance details but have removed all the clothes from the van, leaving her jobless. The whole incident didn't really move the plot forward, and didn't make any sense at all. There's also a bit more telling than I'd like, and some painful would-be punishness ("'You should have seen the butt on the photographer I just had to blow off.'... [Chantal] prefers to blow her photographers rather than blow them off.") Also, Chantal is American. While there may be thousands of Americans named Chantal, every (three) Chantal I've known was not just English but quintessentially, public-school-and-a-pony English. It's like having an American named Tarquin.
On the plus side, the 0nly shoe obsession belongs to Marcus, the other characters don't make ridiculous, van-abandoning decisions, and the chocolate descriptions were intriguing (though I did eat chocolate I wouldn't have otherwise, so bear that in mind). There's a sequel, and I may just try that, too. - Alex

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