Hungry Woman in Paris, by Josefina Lopez
Book description: A journalist and activist, Canela believes passion is essential to life; but lately passion seems to be in short supply. It has disappeared from her relationship with her fiancé, who is more interested in controlling her than encouraging her. It’s absent from her work, where censorship and politics keep important stories from being published. And while her family is full of outspoken individuals, the only one Canela can truly call passionate is her cousin and best friend Luna, who just took her own life. Canela can’t recover from Luna’s death. She is haunted by her ghost and feels acute pain for the dreams that went unrealized. Canela breaks off her engagement and uses her now un-necessary honeymoon ticket, to escape to Paris. Impulsively, she sublets a small apartment and enrolls at Le Coq Rouge, Paris’s most prestigious culinary institute. Cooking school is a sensual and spiritual reawakening that brings back Canela’s hunger for life. With a series of new friends and lovers, she learns to once again savor the world around her. Finally able to cope with Luna’s death, Canela returns home to her family, and to the kind of life she thought she had lost forever.
Being sick is NOT how I preferred to spend the first full week of 2010. However, it did facilitate me starting out this challenge ahead of the game. Forcing myself to stay in bed meant I got a lot of reading done over the last three days. Although an enjoyable and quick read, Hungry Woman in Paris left me feeling downright disjointed. At times I felt like I was right there with Canela, navigating the undiscovered streets and patisseries of Paris, making new friends (and foes) in culinary school, seeing the sights and learning the language. But then Lopez abruptly left me feeling confused. A little too much time spent showcasing Canela’s ‘sexcapades’ and not enough time focused on the impetus for going to Le Coq Rouge, and more about her dynamics with the Parisians. Would have liked Lopez to stay focused a bit more and concentrate on Canela’s life in Paris, not just an appetizer about her dating life, an appetizer about her family life, and a morsel of the “what next”. We’re given bits and pieces of the dynamic between she and her sister Luna, Canela’s experience in France that fuels her to return to Los Angeles to continue fighting for what she believes in based on what she discovered/rediscovered while in Paris to enable her to do this, but the book fails to truly give the reader enough. At the end, Lopez tries to tie up loose ends by sending her back into the arms of her fiance, only to disappoint the reader yet again. Pick a plot line and stick with it! Sorry, but I think we’re still hungry…I’ d recommend Julie & Julia over HWIP any day for the boeuf bourguignon scene alone!
One down, 51 to go. On deck, The Help by Kathryn Stockett…