This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Susan Lobban
While small town school teacher Rachel Smithson is watching the rehearsals for this year’s Christmas show – surprise! However, rather than being over the moon that her colleagues and pupils have arranged a once in a lifetime baking experience in Paris, she is filled with dread. Mind you, when faced with little children’s expectant faces, what choice does she have? She can’t turn it down.
Rachel had previously planned to escape Christmas; she was thinking of holing up in her flat, not travelling to another continent. Besides, she is not as good a baker as all her friends think, so surely she will be sent home in disgrace fairly quickly.
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However, once Rachel gets over the initial shock of her very basic Parisian lodgings, the romance of the city begins to envelop her.
Super-chef judge Henri Salernes, meanwhile, is fiery at the best of times and the fact that he is being forced into looking for an apprentice has made him even more difficult to work with. Rachel has one week to prove that she deserves to be in his kitchen. She has all the right ingredients for success, but will she know what to do with them?
I started this book one cold and damp day while I was full of the cold, but from the first page I found myself wrapped in the warmth of the story like a cosy, comforting blanket. I then proceeded to read all day until I’d finished the whole story.Christmas is just around the corner and Rachel is not looking forward to it. Her love life leaves a lot to be desired and the festive season is when she grieves for her mother the most. She fully intends to give the whole holiday a miss, but her friends and colleagues have different ideas. They have pulled some strings for her to take a place on a week-long apprenticeship with the famous French chef Henri Salernes. Put on the spot she cannot refuse! Her mother used to run the local bakery in town before she died and Rachel’s one big regret is that she could not continue her legacy. She has dabbled in baking since her mother passed away, but this opportunity is way out of her comfort zone.
Henri makes Paul Hollywood look like a teddy bear and Rachel struggles to get past day one, but she manages to find some inner strength (and stubbornness) from somewhere. The week that follows is laden with flour, flavour combinations and flagrant disregard of the rules. I loved that every time Rachel felt stumped on how to stand out from her competitors, memories of her mother combined with her new Parisian experiences provided her with inspiration. The creations lovingly described throughout the competition had my mouth watering!
I rarely manage to find time to finish a book in one day, but with The Parisian Christmas Bake Off, I couldn’t help myself – I devoured it. It is as delicious and sweet as any French pastry, but without any of the calories. Go on … treat yourself!