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The Little French Bistro    by Nina George order for
Little French Bistro
by Nina George
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nina George's The Little French Bistro is a compulsive read, the heartwarming story of a German woman in despair. Late in life, she realizes how empty an existence she has accepted, living (for forty-one years!) with a controlling husband (Lothar) and making no choices of her own.

With Lothar on a business trip to Paris, Marianne attempts suicide. She throws herself into the Seine, but is rescued. In hospital, still intent on ending her life, she picks up a hand painted tile at the nurse's station. It depicts 'Boats, a harbour, an infinite blaze of bright blue sky that looked freshly washed.' Searching for this place leads her to Kerdruc, a small town on the coast of Brittany. She ends up working at the bistro and becoming central to many others' lives, which in turn influence her own for the better.

There's Jean-Rémy, the young chef who doesn't know how to express his feelings for lovely Laurine; a talented older woman, Pascale, descending into dementia; the bistro owner, Genevieve, pining for a lost love; a dying woman who has never declared her feelings for her closest friend; and many more intriguing characters, including Yann, the artist who painted the tile that propelled Marianne on her quest. She interacts with all of them and life is much better - until Lothar finds her once more.

Marianne eventually comes to understand that her own longings matter, not just what others want from life. And though this lead is almost too good to be true and Lothar's late reversal of character unlikely, overall The Little French Bistro is a charming tale touched with Breton magic. Reading it will make you feel good.

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