On Thursday, I dashed off to Paris in the spring, prior to lunch. By early afternoon, I had arrived in Brittany for the summer.
I discovered Nina George in February of last year. The Little Paris Bookshop was my introduction and I had found a new friend. I insisted my husband read the book! Imagine…a book apothecary…one I would love to have as a dinner guest and friend.
Last week, I was delighted to have found another Nina George novel, originally written in 2010 in German, the translation came out earlier this year. The Little French Bistro gave me a host of other names to add to my dinner guest list.
The characters in these two novels weren’t characters, they were real. They are real and they are authentic. She has portrayed her characters with warts, birthmarks, flaws and indecisions. They make mistakes. Yet despite, or maybe because of their flaws, they are likeable. You get the feeling the lady smelling the melon for freshness at the market could be one of Nina George’s characters. They are tangible.
Her story-line flows naturally and does not feel contrived. In The Little French Bistro we are taken on a journey of growth with the main character, Marianne, a sixty-year old woman. It is Marianne’s journey of self-discovery and self-determination which we follow from the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris to the Ar Mor restaurant on the Breton coast. On the way, she heals and becomes healed, by helping others, she helps herself. Marianne is human and her humanity touches the reader making us believe new beginnings are possible.
The land and culture of the Breton coast is also a very important character in the novel. Mythology, feminism and witchcraft all present themselves to the reader, waxing and waning with the moon, rising and falling with the tide.
After closing the back cover, I wanted to pack my bag and go to “…Armorica! …where the land meets the sea; …the end of the world, as old as death itself.” I know the company would be fine and the food good. What more could a literary traveller want?