19/03/2010

Chocolate Wishes (by Trisha Ashley)

I've come across Trisha Ashley a couple of times before. I enjoyed her earlier novels, 'Sweet Nothings' and 'Sowing Secrets', so when I saw that her latest novel was available to review by The Bookbag, I requested it at once.

It took a while to get into 'Chocolate Wishes'. Indeed, when I was in the first few pages, I wondered what I'd got myself into. There were references to tarot readings, a warlock grandfather, ancient Mayan charms, and - a little puzzlingly - angel cards.

Moreover, the style is rather informal, and there is quite a large cast of characters. I was only reading a chapter or two each evening, and found it a little hard to keep track at first. However, the important people are fairly distinctive: some of them eccentric, most of them likeable.

The book is narrated by Chloë, a young woman in her mid-thirties who lives with her much younger step-brother Jake and her warlock novelist grandfather, known appropriately as Grumps. They move to a village where Chloë's best friends live. What takes this out of the average 'village aga saga' is that in contrast to Chloë's Pagan roots, her ex-lover, who was a rock star, just happens to be the new Vicar in the village. So there is an interesting clash of spiritual values, with Chloë herself sitting rather on the fence.

Chloë is in a highly successful home business as a maker of 'chocolate wishes' - in principle a bit like fortune cookies. Before she makes them, she says an ancient Mayan charm over them, although she's not convinced that it makes any difference. She knows she has a guardian angel, and has a large collection of angels in her cottage. And since the new Vicar broke her heart about eighteen years previously, she really doesn't want anything to do with him...

Once I was used to the style, and began to know the people, I found myself enjoying this book very much. It's deeper than the average chick-lit, and more interesting than a normal village saga. All in all, I thought it an excellent read. Recommended.

You can also read my slightly longer review of 'Chocolate Wishes' on the Bookbag site. 

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