Isn’t it a classic fantasy to get away from it all, take off to a new place (preferably somewhere beautiful and/or exciting) and start a completely new life? Especially if your ordinary life is less than you hoped it would be, or even downright painful or difficult, the idea of reinventing yourself in a new location is really attractive. This is the premise of Nina George’s charming new book, The Little French Bistro, and if this is a fantasy of yours, you should definitely take a look.
Marianne, the main character, has been married to a mean, disapproving man for over forty years, and by the time the two of them go on vacation to Paris at the beginning of this book, she’s lost so much of her sense of who she is and what she wants that the only way she can imagine getting free of the situation is by killing herself. So she jumps off a bridge into the Seine River, only to be rescued by a homeless person living on the shore. Her oafish husband, proving himself a complete jerk, responds by berating her in the hospital for ruining his vacation. He takes off for their home in Germany without her, telling her to get psychiatric help and come home.
Marianne doesn’t obey him this time (if she did, this wouldn’t be much of a book). She takes off for the coast of Brittany, the “end of the world,” figuring she’ll end it all there. Instead, she discovers the people of the area, their warmth and quirkiness, and she begins to return to life herself, learning French (isn’t that part of the fantasy, that even though you don’t even know the language, you’ll still be able to make yourself at home in this new place?), making friends, discovering the talents she’d been stifling all her life, and basically giving herself, with the encouragement of the people in the village, a second chance to live and love. When her husband comes to track her down and confront her, will she have the inner strength and self-respect to stand up to him?
Full of rich and well-drawn characters and set lovingly in some of the most beautiful country of France, The Little French Bistro is the kind of book to take to the beach or to dive into when you’re in need of a break and reassurance that dreams sometimes do come true. Come and get it at the Field Library!