Having read The Little Paris Bookshop (which I haven’t reviewed as yet!) I was looking forward to Nina George’s The Little French Bistro and I wasn’t disappointed.
I must say the beginning of the book was a bit off putting and since it is the beginning I feel safe telling you…our heroine travels to Paris and the Seine with the purpose of drowning herself, huh!!!??? She obviously has her reasons, she is running away from a forty-one year unhappy marriage. Why, you might ask, stay in a marriage that long, I think you will agree people stay in relationships for all sorts of reasons, but mostly, in my opinion, it is familiar, perhaps in some way, comforting normalcy. Marianne isn’t physically abused but emotional abuse can be as devastating. So she leaves and jumps into the Seine and by chance, there is a man (who appears to be homeless) on the banks of the River who saves her. She isn’t happy about this but feels it means she must get on with her life by whatever means. She doesn’t know what to do or where to go but starts her journey for the French coast and ends up in Brittany, which is known as “the end of the world”! She is embraced by the population of the small town and finds work at Mor restaurant. Quoting from the inside flap of the book “Among food, music, and laughter, Marianne finds a forgotten version of herself—passionate, (Nena’s note, yes there is an affair) carefree and powerful.” Her past does catch up with her, literally, and decisions must be made, we hope she makes the right ones.
I really enjoyed Ms. George’s http://www.nina-george.com writing and how she brought the power of being oneself (even when you don’t know who that is!) to be life altering. What I especially liked is the protagonist isn’t a 20 something but an “older” woman who rediscovers herself, obviously telling us it is never too late to be true to who you really are. Is there a physical make-over, yes, and it is wonderful and, of course, the mental and emotional make-over. The story gives us hope that one can change no matter the circumstances nor the time of your life…live it fully! Is there freedom to do whatever you want or haven’t tried before, absolutely and it is a delight to watch (read!)
I want to quote directly from the book, page 240 to be exact, it, in my opinion, perfectly describes the book’s meaning….let’s see what you think…
“Marianne loved the feeling of being wanted. As Marianne. As a woman. ‘In my search for death, I found life. How many deviations, side roads and senseless detours a woman can take before she finds her own path, and all because she falls into line too early, takes too early the paths of custom and convention, defined by doddering old men and their henchwomen—the mothers who only want the most dutiful outcome for their daughters. And then she wastes an immense amount of time ensuring that she fits the mold! How little time then remains to correct her fate. And, yet. life as an autonomous woman is not a song. It’s a scream, a war, it’s a daily struggle against the easy option of obeying. I could have obeyed, could have lived less dangerously, ventured nothing, failed at nothing.’ ”
Very profound and, again, in my opinion, spot on.
I recently joined a Facebook group of women led by Catherine Grace O’Connell http://www.catherinegraceo.com (you may recall I profiled Catherine in a previous post) The group, The Fierce 50 Revolution (name is changing) exists to empower women from mid-life on by giving each an organization to network with other women. Do go to the Facebook site for details. This book should be MUST reading for all the members and I would suggest, for all my readers. It is a charming eye-opening look into the world of conforming and then becoming an independent person.
You know I like to support Independent Booksellers but in this instance, my book was purchased from http://www.amazon.com