“Luxury. Glamour. Beauty. Sin. We must create all of these, today.”
I do enjoy stories featuring food as well as historical fiction, so I already knew I would like this novel, but after reading this book was quite different to how I had expected it to be.
In Paris 1909, Gui du Frere takes a chance and enters the world of the famous Patisserie Clermont. Drawn in by melting chocolate, extravagant cakes and cleverly constructed confections of sugar and caramel, he gives up the dirty work of the railways for the hard but refined work in the kitchens.
He is also lured by the patisserie owner’s daughter; the strong willed Jeanne who is both beautiful and clever. With the differences in station, an affair between them would be scandalous but they are both young and seemingly in love.
Alongside their story, we meet Petra, an academic in the 1988s who is researching the history of her Grandfather who is somehow tied to the scandal that occurred in Paris all those years ago. With a brash biographer on her heels for the rare information she requires, and her final thesis becoming neglected, Petra becomes more immersed in the mystery that leads her to find out more about her beloved Grandfather than she ever knew was possible.
I liked that the story was written with alternating chapters between 1900s France and 1980s England as each part of the mystery was revealed from the characters involved. It was so clever that the modern day character was in the 80s rather than now, as she had no Google or modern technology to search with, so the old style detective methods were really charming and suited the story.
Petra was a very likeable, real lead and I was rooting for her to succeed the whole way through. I also really enjoyed the immersion into an old version of Paris, especially in the patisserie. The delicious foodie descriptions of the confections created were truly mouth-watering and I would have liked it even more if there was more of it. The mystery itself was very addictive and I liked how the story was concluded.
The Confectioner’s Tale is an elegantly written and compelling story and I ate up every word like a hungry Parisian diner! Laura Madeleine’s passion for baking shines through and I really hope there is more foodie fiction in the works from this author.