At the Patisserie Clermont, Paris’ high society gathers, meeting over delectable creations. A chance encounter with the owner’s daughter gives a young railroad worker a glimpse of a world he had never imagined and now wants very much to be part of. 78 years later, Petra discovers a photograph in amongst her grandfather’s possessions, on the back is written “forgive me”. As she delves deeper, she starts to uncover the connection between him and the young man who once dreamed of confectionary and a different life.
The Confectioner’s Tale switches back and forth between Paris 1910 and Cambridge 1988. In one half it’s about a woman doing some research into the past of her grandfather, and the other half historical fiction set around a forbidden romance. It’s a pleasant enough story but nothing that really grabbed my attention.
The more modern setting appeared to be set just before the internet age so that things wouldn’t be easier for Petra to research. If it were set now, she wouldn’t have to travel around to trace people and historic photos are often archived online. I do think now, the biographer who tries to block her would get a lot of grief on the internet too. How times have changed since the eighties. It almost seems just as big a gap as between Petra’s day and that of Patisserie Clermont!
There were a thousand noises: spoons clattering, liquid being poured in glugs, a deep unctuous bubbling from the stove. Heat blasted him in a roar as someone opened an oven.
I wanted more details on the patisserie’s methods and cakes in 1910. It’s all presented as something magical but frivolous in the big scheme of things. When Gui starts working there, we do get to see a bit of the hardships of the job, but the craftsmanship is mostly brushed over. It wasn’t full of mouth-watering descriptions as I has hoped.
I found the storyline about the biographer a little bit ridiculous and unnecessary. It was all treated as if this “scandal” would ruin Petra’s grandfather’s reputation and be the worst thing ever if it were to be included in his biography. Rather than appearing as if she were acting out of grief, which might be more acceptable, she was petty and childish. She realy wasn’t convincing as a PhD student. And the biographer was just as bad; why wouldn’t you let a grieving granddaughter see a few letters and photos? Although there does appear to be a recurring theme about journalists being untrustworthy.
The Confectioner’s Tale is published by Transworld and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive
Also reviewed @ Random Things Through My Letterbox | Being Anne
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.