Author: Nina George
Overview from Goodreads:
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings.
Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world.
Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.
With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.
I actually am surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel as I didn’t have high expectations going into it. There are a lot of emotions you go through while reading and it can be extremely relatable to a lot of people who want a change and to just get away to start again. The setting is very picturesque and would be a great place to visit if I didn’t get a chance to move there.
Marianne and her husband Lothar are a German couple and have been together since she was in her late-teens. She is now in her 60s and the two of them have embarked on a tour to Paris. Unfortunately, their marriage has a lot of issues as Lothar is not the best husband as he is selfish and controlling (among other negatives). Therefore, Marianne wishes to find a way out as she suffers through getting by. While on the trip to Paris, Marianne finally snaps and decides now is the time to get out. Her initial plan was suicide as she just wanted out of the marriage and away from the life she’s in. Through a series of events, she ends up looking at a tile painted with the scenery of a small French coastal village in Brittany. She decides to go on an adventure to search for Kerdruc.
After some adventures, she finally reaches her destination and she feels at peace. This is where Marianne’s story of recovering begins and we get to travel along as she finds a way to discover life again without Lothar around. She gets a job working at the local bistro and slowly puts together a new beginning. She makes friends, has a love interest, and most importantly, she learns what makes her happy and her own limits. Even if you don’t relate to everything that Marianne goes through, the general feelings are very relatable.
One issue that I did have was how easily her life in the new village just all falls into place as she gets the job fairly fast without a lot of obstacles. The people there are fairly welcoming and she fits in with them a little too well without a lot of tension. I did enjoy learning about all of the characters of the village though, but because the story shifts focus between them, it was hard to keep Marianne as the focal point of the novel. There are moments where we shift so far towards another character that she tended to be put on the back-burner rather than have the two stories happen simultaneously where Marianne is still our star character. It doesn’t take a lot away from the story as we do get just enough about Marianne to follow along, but it would’ve been nice to devote a few pieces to her story.
The writing takes you on Marianne’s journey and you can experience every aspect of the coastal village. The food described almost makes your mouth salivate and the wording entices all the senses with describing the environment. I loved learning all the secrets and insights into all the characters where you feel a part of their lives. You do get lost in the pages and it was a very good read. The overall theme of finding happiness for yourself is fantastic and I was here for the whole thing. I’m very happy that I took a chance on this book and I would gladly add this book to my re-reading list!