THE CHOCOLATE PROMISE
Author: Josephine Moon
Allen & Unwin RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Any book with the word “chocolate” in the title is bound to catch the attention of chocolate-loving readers, and The Chocolate Promise by Josephine Moon did exactly that. Moon, who wrote international bestseller The Tea Chest, has delivered another sweet treat that hits the spot for escapist reading.
A tragedy has led Christmas Livingstone from the hectic PR world of Sydney to a quiet Tasmanian town, where she’s now the proprietor of a specialist chocolate shop called The Chocolate Apothecary. Guided by her ten rules for happiness, which includes ‘absolutely no romantic relationships’, Christmas has created a new life for herself, making delicious artisan chocolate treats and acting as a kind of “fairy godmother” for people who need a little help. What she’s really doing is using a veneer of happiness and a life of busy-ness to mask her pain and protect herself from getting hurt again.
Her carefully constructed world is shaken by a number of events. Firstly, she is offered a week-long scholarship course with a world-renowned French chocolatier, which is fantastic … but gets her thinking about the father she has never met and may live in France. Then, the handsome Lincoln van Luc turns up at her shop and asks her to work with him on a book about chocolate, and before she knows it, her most important rule for happiness is being thoroughly tested. Will Christmas lean that some rules are meant to be broken before it’s too late?
The Chocolate Promise is a tasty, tender read. While much of this is due to the delectable descriptions of chocolate making, it’s also due to the lovable characters that fill the pages, such as Lincoln’s Nan. What comes across strongly is the importance of relationships. Sometimes they need tending to, building up … and sometimes you have to let them go. The characters all have their weaknesses and strengths, and as the novel progresses, many of them come to a deeper understanding of themselves and the people in their lives. The strongest example is parenting – both Lincoln and Christmas have issues with their parents and the way they were parented (Lincoln with his father, Christmas with her mother). In turn, Lincoln’s father, Tom, reveals that he has been carrying hurt for many years, and the eventual reconciliation with his mother is heartfelt.
The issue of healing relationships and healing oneself is repeated many times through the book. The theme of healing also comes across through Christmas’s strong belief in chocolate’s medicinal qualities … and ultimately, chocolate, indirectly or not, is the bridge for the healing of many hurts.
At times funny, and other times bittersweet, The Chocolate Promise is best savoured with plenty of chocolate when you won’t be interrupted.
Available from good bookstores and Allen & Unwin. My copy was courtesy of The Reading Room via Allen & Unwin.
Giveaway: I have three print copies to give away courtesy of Allen & Unwin – if you live in Australia, all the details are here.
Bookish treat: No prizes for guessing … chocolate. I have been eating Lindt balls (courtesy of Christmas and birthday leftovers … still!).