‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’ by Jenny Oliver was published by Carina in November 2014. It is available in both ebook and paperback.
When primary school teacher Rachel finds her friends have booked her into a baking competition in Paris during the Christmas holidays she is not best pleased. However, with her mother dead, an uncommunicative father and a n’er do well sort of boyfriend, she agrees to give it a try and so begins a competition that might just help her find herself again.
For the first few pages of this book I thought I would find it formulaic and uninspiring. I was wrong. Admittedly, the plot has the elements one would expect, with a couple of love interests, some difficulties and a best friend for telling the protagonist a few home truths, but this predictability is also its strength. Readers of this genre want a book they feel familiar with, that is fun and that fulfills their reading preferences. Jenny Oliver does this brilliantly. We want snow and romance at Christmas and reading this book with its Parisian setting is what we get.
‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’ is a lovely story. As the time frame for the setting is tight, there is excellent pace so the story zips along. Jenny Oliver uses the senses so well when she writes that I could see, smell, taste, touch and hear Christmas. The descriptions are so vivid I found myself incredibly hungry reading about all the baking and I actually felt quite Christmassy reading it in blazing sunshine in September.
The characters all felt like real people and I thoroughly appreciated the way in which a range of individuals was presented. Of course, I preferred Philippe to Ben and I wanted Marcel to get his comeuppance! The full range of emotions is present from petty jealousies to hope and love so that readers can identify with what happens all the more easily.
If you like watching The Great British Bake Off on television, you’ll adore Jenny Oliver’s ‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’. I know I did.