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From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings. Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne l From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings. Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world. Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life's small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along. With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.


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From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings. Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne l From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings. Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world. Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life's small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along. With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.

30 review for The Little French Bistro

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    Apparently, my review contains some spoilers, so ... (view spoiler)[ The German Marianne Lanz is sixty, lonely, unloved, unvalued, unable to make her own decisions - she's been married for forty-one years to some army dude. When in Paris, she decides to finally take her life into her own hands and do what she wants for once - kill herself by throwing herself into the Seine. Since she's the main character, obviously, she didn't succeed. She's rescued. She ends up in a hospital. She speaks no French. Apparently, my review contains some spoilers, so ... (view spoiler)[ The German Marianne Lanz is sixty, lonely, unloved, unvalued, unable to make her own decisions - she's been married for forty-one years to some army dude. When in Paris, she decides to finally take her life into her own hands and do what she wants for once - kill herself by throwing herself into the Seine. Since she's the main character, obviously, she didn't succeed. She's rescued. She ends up in a hospital. She speaks no French. But takes off and makes her way to the quaint little town of Kedruc in the Brittany. All that because of a beautifully painted tile that she found in the hospital. Kind strangers help her to get there. She ends up working in a restaurant in Kedruc where the young chef starts teaching her French. She must be a genius because she seems to go from no French to expressive French and some Breton in no time at all. And she sure seems to have lots of time and energy to share. She works in the restaurant during the busy season; she takes to cleaning, washing sheets etc in the rooms of the empty hotel where she was given a room. She meets some older people suffering from Alzheimer and Parkinson and she takes to redoing their garden, keep them company etc. Also, she loves to explore the area, take very long walks etc. As I was saying, she's very energetic, not only for a sixty-year-old. She finds love. All good, right. I was... you go, girl. There are many characters in this novel and they had their stories to tell. I don't think all of them were necessary or that they added that much to the novel. (hide spoiler)] I'm dumbfounded that I didn't enjoy this novel more, as it had all the ingredients I enjoy: French settings, older characters, love stories, starting over, happy coincidences, smaller quaint communities, food - you get the idea. Still, in spite of all these nice ingredients, the resulting mix was dry and boring - you know, like eating to survive, instead of savouring and being taken to another place by the extraordinary meal. This novel needed some seasoning, I'm not quite sure which one, as the resulting "dish" was edible but not memorable. Ok, I'll stop with the food analogies, you get the idea. I've received this novel via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the publishers, Hachette Australia, for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Carter

    I felt so many emotions while reading this book. Initially sadness, pity and melancholy; then a mixture of heartwarming lightheartedness, joy and empowerment, with some humour mixed in. Reading 'The Little Breton Bistro' was almost like going on a journey through a rainbow of every emotion under the sun. Which is what a good author and book should be able to conjure - emotions and feelings. Marianne is in her 60's and has been married to her husband, Lothar, since she was 19. Her husband is cont I felt so many emotions while reading this book. Initially sadness, pity and melancholy; then a mixture of heartwarming lightheartedness, joy and empowerment, with some humour mixed in. Reading 'The Little Breton Bistro' was almost like going on a journey through a rainbow of every emotion under the sun. Which is what a good author and book should be able to conjure - emotions and feelings. Marianne is in her 60's and has been married to her husband, Lothar, since she was 19. Her husband is controlling, selfish, tight and nasty towards Marianne. She has suffered in quiet throughout their marriage, but while on holiday in Paris she suddenly decides enough is enough and she is through with this life. A series of incidents see her initial plan to throw herself into the Seine scuppered. She finds a tile with a painting of a beautiful Brittany port inscribed with the name of the village, Kerdruc, and decides to head towards the coast in search of it. Once she reaches the picturesque village she feels like she has returned home. Her plan to be washed away on the waves of the sea is again thwarted, when she ends up sheltering in a moored boat, and encounters some of the friendly and curious locals. As Marianne says herself "life intervened" and she begins to discover herself again, as well as the joys of life. Initially I thought this book may be a bit depressing; however once Marianne reaches the coast, the vibe of the book also started to go through a transformation, which is really what the book is all about. It's still full of poignant moments, but it's almost like that now Marianne is in a less toxic place, the entire feel of the emotions created by the book also changed. The character development is fantastic and very believable; it was like witnessing the real Marianne emerging as a beautiful butterfly from a cocoon in which she has been trapped and bound. The descriptions of the town and the food......My stomach was making lots of grumbling noises during some parts of the book, I could almost smell the food being described. 'The Little Breton Bistro' is an all round stunning and captivating read. I loved the transformative and healing process Marianne went through, and the message of the book particularly in regards to love - not just towards others, but also yourself. The writing is rich and wonderful; filled with loads of insight, secrets and intrigue. I strongly recommend it to everyone looking for a good book to really get into, although be prepared to get lost in its pages and in the lives of the residents of Kerdruc. I definitely can't wait to read more from Nina George. I am off now to buy 'The Little Paris Bookshop' on my Kindle. This book touched me so much I am also going to buy it in "a proper book" format. I believe it definitely deserves a place on my bookshelf, where I can reread it over the years as a reminder of the books message. With many thanks to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK, and the author for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Purple Country Girl (Sandy)

    I received a copy of The Little French Bistro from Penguin’s First to Read program. I was looking for something on the lighter side after reading a batch of dark, twisted thrillers and thought this tale of a middle-aged woman rediscovering herself in France would fit the bill. The book description is a bit misleading, omitting that the”dramatic moment” the main character, Marianne, experiences on the Seine is her own suicide attempt. Marianne is very melancholy - she feels she has wasted over 40 I received a copy of The Little French Bistro from Penguin’s First to Read program. I was looking for something on the lighter side after reading a batch of dark, twisted thrillers and thought this tale of a middle-aged woman rediscovering herself in France would fit the bill. The book description is a bit misleading, omitting that the”dramatic moment” the main character, Marianne, experiences on the Seine is her own suicide attempt. Marianne is very melancholy - she feels she has wasted over 40 years of her life in a loveless marriage to an unfeeling man. Her life feels empty and she wants to end it all but her desire to kill herself is thwarted by a gentleman who pulls her out of the Seine and calls an ambulance. After her husband visits her in the hospital, scolds her and leaves her feeling miserable, she flees and makes her way to the beautiful and charming coast of Brittany. There she easily (a bit too easily, in my opinion) ends up working in a French bistro. I feel that everything just falls into place without much effort once she arrives. Everyone loves her and makes her feel welcome. It’s all just so nice - and dull and a bit empty. I had to force myself to continue reading. Even in this beautiful place with so many nice people, she still contemplates ending it all. The characters she meets and interacts with in Brittany all just run together for me. There are a lot of them, vying for the reader’s attention but, despite complicated relationships or illness, etc., no one really stood out, many are one-dimensional and cardboard. A few were interesting but just didn’t hold my interest. It felt like quantity over quality. I really had a difficult time staying interested in The Little French Bistro. I love reading books set in France and really hoped that this would be a win but it just feels personality-less. I also love reading about characters overcoming difficult circumstances and getting a second chance but everything feels flat. It just doesn’t seem to have much depth. Also, at times, Marianne feels like a minor character, taking a backseat to these other characters. In the end, it was just wasn’t my taste. I think I’ll stick with Antoine Laurain when I want a charming book set in France.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    Marianne has had enough of her dowdy, meaningless life. She has lived with her husband for forty years, who neither loves her, nor respects her. On a trip to Paris with her husband, she quietly slips out of a dinner party and makes her way down to the river Seine. Carefully removing her few possessions, she jumps into the river hoping to end her life. Unfortunately for her, she is pulled to the bank by a homeless man, and an ambulance is called, taking her to the local hospital. Once there, her hu Marianne has had enough of her dowdy, meaningless life. She has lived with her husband for forty years, who neither loves her, nor respects her. On a trip to Paris with her husband, she quietly slips out of a dinner party and makes her way down to the river Seine. Carefully removing her few possessions, she jumps into the river hoping to end her life. Unfortunately for her, she is pulled to the bank by a homeless man, and an ambulance is called, taking her to the local hospital. Once there, her husband turns up, though sorrow and pity are the last things on his mind. He is upset with her, telling her what she has attempted will look bad on him. He also decides that she needs to see a psychologist. Marianne then comes across a tile with the beautiful port town of Kerdruc, Brittany on it. She decides there and then that she is going to find a way to get to this beautiful place, and leave her past behind her. I was honoured to have read an advanced copy of Nina George’s last book, ‘The Little Paris Bookshop‘ in 2015, and loved every page of it. So when I became aware that Nina had written another book, I was eager to read this one too. Nina writes with pure passion. She goes against the grain with her stories, and fills them with characters that don’t normally make the cut in novels, the older generation. There is an air of sophistication about Nina’s work, you don’t just read her words, but you feel them too. The Little Brenton Bistro, is a complex story, one told by a sixty-year-old woman who has had enough with this life. She wants some happiness, and if that means finding it in death, then so be it. Being ground down by the man who is supposed to love her really has taken its toll on Marianne. She no longer cares what people say about her. She no longer cares what her husband thinks about her. Unfortunately, it feels like she no longer cares about herself as well. So when a spur of the moment idea seeps into her head, she has nothing to lose. This book could be seen as a sad book, with a depressing undertone at times, but it is also uplifting. It is an inspiration to anyone that has ever felt lost in this world to discover, even if only in fiction, what life could be like. Don’t be fooled by the chick-lit-esque cover, as this is far from one. Nina George will grab hold of your emotions and toss them around during ‘The Little Brenton Bistro. The story is awe-inspiring, captivating and completely masterful from beginning to end, and is a must read for 2017. I can see this book winning some awards this year. Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yodamom

    Beautiful, breathtaking prose, romantic, succulent foods, vivid scenery, dreamy settings, realistic lovable characters that are easily connected with and so many life awakening quotable moments. The main characters are mature, well lived, full of experiences and yet full of wonder. Oh it's fantastic. I adore this author's style. This is the second book I've read from her, the first being The Little Paris Bookshop. I loved that one but this one held on to my heart a bit more and never let go, so Beautiful, breathtaking prose, romantic, succulent foods, vivid scenery, dreamy settings, realistic lovable characters that are easily connected with and so many life awakening quotable moments. The main characters are mature, well lived, full of experiences and yet full of wonder. Oh it's fantastic. I adore this author's style. This is the second book I've read from her, the first being The Little Paris Bookshop. I loved that one but this one held on to my heart a bit more and never let go, so far it's my favorite. Good luck topping this one Ms. George.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    4.5 stars. Have you ever been desperate enough to want to escape life? To throw yourself in the Seine and end it all! No? Well Marianne does, life has passed her by, she is deeply unhappy and sees no other way out. However when her effort to bring her sad life to a close is thwarted by a stranger she eventually finds herself on the way to Brittany and possibly ready to listen to herself and her own needs and desires. The more I read on in this story the more I was captivated by Marianne and the p 4.5 stars. Have you ever been desperate enough to want to escape life? To throw yourself in the Seine and end it all! No? Well Marianne does, life has passed her by, she is deeply unhappy and sees no other way out. However when her effort to bring her sad life to a close is thwarted by a stranger she eventually finds herself on the way to Brittany and possibly ready to listen to herself and her own needs and desires. The more I read on in this story the more I was captivated by Marianne and the people she meets up with. I loved them all and especially Emile and Pascal - one who suffers from Parkinson's and the other from Dementia but ... they are happy and love each other. I felt like I was there in Brittany, in the cafe, by the sea amongst the various characters. I loved seeing Marianne uncovering the things she loves and needs, the people she loves and needs. I read this book over Easter and truly if there was ever a book about death and resurrection this was it. Such an important message to us all, to live who we truly are, without worrying about what others think. While this may have been about a woman who needed to bring alive the powers within her, the men in the story are not left out, they too need to have the courage to live out their wildest dreams. I did despair that Jean-Remy, a young chef, would ever get there and claim his love... Ultimately an uplifting and life affirming story that I'll remember for a long while.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Saima Nisbet

    I've abandoned Breton Bistro in annoyance, it's not charming and life affirming but written by a simpleton and much like a romcom. It begins with someone trying to kill themselves and seemed intriguing but almost half way in, the clichés of getting a make over and the description of her transformation made me want to vomit. The other characters were a mixed bag, the couple growing old were interesting but the chef pining over fancying the waitress was irritating. A book with a similar opening pr I've abandoned Breton Bistro in annoyance, it's not charming and life affirming but written by a simpleton and much like a romcom. It begins with someone trying to kill themselves and seemed intriguing but almost half way in, the clichés of getting a make over and the description of her transformation made me want to vomit. The other characters were a mixed bag, the couple growing old were interesting but the chef pining over fancying the waitress was irritating. A book with a similar opening premise which was indeed life affirming is "A Man Called Ove".

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karol

    I have to say, I was very disappointed with this book. The first few chapters were interesting and sucked me in, but then it went off on a dozen tangents. There were so many side characters that served no purpose and got way too much time spent on them. Halfway through the book, I wasn't even sure what it was about anymore. And I found the main character so aggravating and annoying. Her character kept changing for no reason and she couldn't make up her mind about anything! Yet everyone kept fawn I have to say, I was very disappointed with this book. The first few chapters were interesting and sucked me in, but then it went off on a dozen tangents. There were so many side characters that served no purpose and got way too much time spent on them. Halfway through the book, I wasn't even sure what it was about anymore. And I found the main character so aggravating and annoying. Her character kept changing for no reason and she couldn't make up her mind about anything! Yet everyone kept fawning over her as if she was something unbelievably special. In reality, everyone would be completely fed up with her. I thought the writing was weak and messy and the editing was awful...nothing flowed in this book. I somehow finished it, but it just got worse and worse. I can not recommend this book...it was just a mess.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    If you love a book with words that sparkle, Nina George is the author for you. The prose is warm and feels like silky moonlight dancing on a warm summer pool. The Little Paris Bookshop is one of my favorite books. This did not grab me the same way as that. This is a good book and I enjoyed it. Nina does such a great job with emotions and the interplay between people in a relationship. This is about a woman who is stuck in a marriage and it opens with her failed suicide attempt. This is actually If you love a book with words that sparkle, Nina George is the author for you. The prose is warm and feels like silky moonlight dancing on a warm summer pool. The Little Paris Bookshop is one of my favorite books. This did not grab me the same way as that. This is a good book and I enjoyed it. Nina does such a great job with emotions and the interplay between people in a relationship. This is about a woman who is stuck in a marriage and it opens with her failed suicide attempt. This is actually the beginning of her life. She makes her way to Brittany France at the end of the world where she learns to live her life again. I so enjoyed taking part in these characters lives. I will miss this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

    Wow... I am not sure what it is about Nina George's writing but it hits me deep within my soul. I loved "The little Paris Bookshop" and was so excited when I won this book in a goodreads giveaway, and this book did not disappoint! I am not sure if it is the richness of the characters or the exquisite picture that George's writing conjure up within my mind, plus adding a delightfully heart warming engaging story line that makes this book such an unbelievable read. The little Breton Bistro is a wo Wow... I am not sure what it is about Nina George's writing but it hits me deep within my soul. I loved "The little Paris Bookshop" and was so excited when I won this book in a goodreads giveaway, and this book did not disappoint! I am not sure if it is the richness of the characters or the exquisite picture that George's writing conjure up within my mind, plus adding a delightfully heart warming engaging story line that makes this book such an unbelievable read. The little Breton Bistro is a work of art that will be admired discussed and loved!!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Claire Ellis

    A little disappointing - too many characters were too similar and became indistinguishable at times.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lindy Schwartz

    While I think her writing can be very lovely, I didn't have much empathy for these characters. I just wanted to smack most of them upside the head and tell them to stop acting like fools. While I think her writing can be very lovely, I didn't have much empathy for these characters. I just wanted to smack most of them upside the head and tell them to stop acting like fools.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen Whittard

    I really, really, really struggled with this book. I found it very, very hard to read and to get into. Mainly because of it opening with someone killing themselves and the subsequent chapters deal with the backlash of this. Yes it is a journey of discovery ect ect. But I just couldn't make myself want to read it. I thought it was going to be a sweet happy book. But it was dark and twisted and not really for me. I really, really, really struggled with this book. I found it very, very hard to read and to get into. Mainly because of it opening with someone killing themselves and the subsequent chapters deal with the backlash of this. Yes it is a journey of discovery ect ect. But I just couldn't make myself want to read it. I thought it was going to be a sweet happy book. But it was dark and twisted and not really for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Primrose Jess

    I almost didn't keep reading this one as the story began. I just couldn't jive with the main character and the story wasn't pulling me in.. then I set it down for a day or two... came back.. and.. BAM I was hooked. As soon as Marianne tries her first raw oyster and the luscious description of the foods prepared by Jean Remy were described, I had to know more. Nina George has such a talent for describing the locations in which she sets her books. You feel the emotion and ties she must have had t I almost didn't keep reading this one as the story began. I just couldn't jive with the main character and the story wasn't pulling me in.. then I set it down for a day or two... came back.. and.. BAM I was hooked. As soon as Marianne tries her first raw oyster and the luscious description of the foods prepared by Jean Remy were described, I had to know more. Nina George has such a talent for describing the locations in which she sets her books. You feel the emotion and ties she must have had to the area to set her book location there. I especially loved the power of music in this book for Marianne. This was such a lovely story about self discovery for all the characters, second chances, amazing food, and ultimately love.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tras

    Confession time: I absolutely LOVED Nina George's previous book, The Little Paris Bookshop! Quite possibly because of the following reasons: 1. I'm a sucker for books about books. More so, if the book incorporates a canal barge, and books being used as a means to satiate one's most pressing needs (as identified through the eyes of the bookseller). 2. I have a romantic streak a mile wide. Literally, one mile. I measured it. 3. I read it on the beach in the gloriously tropical heat of the Dominican R Confession time: I absolutely LOVED Nina George's previous book, The Little Paris Bookshop! Quite possibly because of the following reasons: 1. I'm a sucker for books about books. More so, if the book incorporates a canal barge, and books being used as a means to satiate one's most pressing needs (as identified through the eyes of the bookseller). 2. I have a romantic streak a mile wide. Literally, one mile. I measured it. 3. I read it on the beach in the gloriously tropical heat of the Dominican Republic. These three factors, I believe, contributed to the creation of the literary equivalent of a perfect storm. Only with more reading and significantly less stormy death. But essentially, it's the same thing. No, really. Anyway, whatever the reasons, I REALLY loved that book, and wanted this one to be equally as wonderful. Was it? Very nearly, but not quite. And that's not bad. Marianne is 60. She is deeply unhappy with her 40 year marriage, and her horribly controlling and psychologically abusive husband. Her solution is to finally take matters into her own hands. Fortunately, events don't unfold as she intends them to and, via a series of fortuitous connections, she finds herself in an idyllic town on the Brittany coast. Here she meets a diverse cast of characters - lots of people plus a cat - who offer the love, friendship, and support, that allow Marianne to rediscover her love of life, and resurrect those fragments of herself that had become lost in an oppressive relationship. Marianne is lovely. In fact, she's a borderline angel. However, I admit that I frequently alternated between wanting to give her enormous hugs (when it seemed she was about to break and/or make terrible choices), and throttling her (for occasionally making the aforementioned terrible choices). Then again, I feel that way about most people I know really, so as you were. Ultimately, this is a warm and caring kind of a book. The pages resonate with friendship, love, and discovering that it's never too late to change your life. It's poignant and overflowing with genuine positivity. Let's face it, in the world of 2019, this is an incredibly welcome attribute! I imagine it would be difficult to walk away from this story without feeling infinitely better about life and things in general. I don't know about you but I would dearly love to live in the small fishing port of Kerdruc on the French coast, surrounded by individuals as wonderful as those that populate this book. One day perhaps...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    “The Little French Bistro” is a story with a message that you are never too old to find your passion and to live a full life. The story opens with a sad Marianne Messman in Paris on holiday deciding to end her miserable life. She’s been married to Lothar for forty-one browbeaten years. As the reader learns of her married years, it’s no wonder that the Seine river is looking attractive: she’s done with life. Unexpectedly, a homeless man rescues her after she jumps into the Seine. Her husband Loth “The Little French Bistro” is a story with a message that you are never too old to find your passion and to live a full life. The story opens with a sad Marianne Messman in Paris on holiday deciding to end her miserable life. She’s been married to Lothar for forty-one browbeaten years. As the reader learns of her married years, it’s no wonder that the Seine river is looking attractive: she’s done with life. Unexpectedly, a homeless man rescues her after she jumps into the Seine. Her husband Lothar is furious that she humiliated him and he now has to deal with her. The good news is Lothar is so selfish that he goes home without her, expecting the insurance to pay for her return with a hospital employee. Marianne is a plucky sixty-year old who is determined to find another way to end her life. And with that, she is off, with little money, no belongings, just her determination. It is here that author Nina George begins her sweet story of a woman (who considers herself to be past the “use by” date in her life) who finds her way into a life she never even dreamed she was worthy. Her journey leads her to Brittany where she finds an enclave of eccentric characters. Through chance she falls into a job, a life, and a passion that leads to self-discovery. It’s a satisfying and uplifting read. It’s a great beach read!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I hesitated buying this book. I had loved Nina George's previous novel, The Little Paris Bookshop, but the synopsis of this one put me off a little. Then, because I loved that earlier one and was looking for something with charm to listen to driving to and from the lake this summer, I bought this one. Good move, Barbara. Yes, it was heavy at the opening, as I feared from the synopsis. But once I got into it, I got INTO it. The Little French Bistro is a love story, not only one of romantic love but I hesitated buying this book. I had loved Nina George's previous novel, The Little Paris Bookshop, but the synopsis of this one put me off a little. Then, because I loved that earlier one and was looking for something with charm to listen to driving to and from the lake this summer, I bought this one. Good move, Barbara. Yes, it was heavy at the opening, as I feared from the synopsis. But once I got into it, I got INTO it. The Little French Bistro is a love story, not only one of romantic love but even more of self-love. The central character is a woman who feels unloved by everything in the world, first and foremost by the man to whom she’s been married for forty years. Her despair is so great that she throws herself into the Seine, intent on drowning. After a good Samaritan thwarts that plan, she stumbles from one experience to the next until she lands on the northwest coast of Brittany, where, little by little she discovers a side of herself that she never imagined. Of course, there is still the husband to contend with, though the woman she has become is very different from the one who disappeared in Paris. There are a lot of characters in The Little French Bistro, but they are wonderful and diverse. They are good people. And there is humor. The setting is every bit as flavorful as that in Ms. George's earlier book. As the protagonist comes to appreciate the sounds and smells of the coast, as she connects with the water, so do we. There is a tiny element of the supernatural here, but it is done so lightly and works so well with the prose, that even die-hard realists won’t mind. One late-plot twist involving the protagonist's husband bothered me. I’m not sure I’d have written the story quite this way. But then, this wasn’t my book to write. Another tiny element bothered me, and if any of you reading this review have thoughts on it, I could use your help. The title is The Little French Bistro. But is there an actual bistro in this book? I listened to the audiobook. Perhaps in a print edition the "restaurant" is occasionally called the "bistro." Yes? No? I understand the author and/or publisher wanting to capitalize on the popularity of the first book by picking a comparable title, and "bistro" has more charm than the plain old "restaurant." But as marketing ploys went, I felt this was too much. Is The Little French Bistro too predictable, as some critics complained? I didn't think so. The end had twists I did not expect. Still, if this book is viewed as a woman's personal journey, yes, she does find herself. Does a happy ending make a book predictable? Or, conversely, do we need a tragic ending in order to be considered innovative? Did I like The Little French Bistro as much as I liked The Little Paris Bookshop? Hard to judge. The two are different. One thing is for sure: This new one has a central theme of hope that sticks with me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Nina George has become one of my favorite authors in just two books. I loved this book so much. Lyrical, magical, uplifting, heartbreaking, amazing. All these words and so many more describe this book for me. One I didn't want to put down. A story I didn't want to end. So, so, so, SO beautiful. Nina George has become one of my favorite authors in just two books. I loved this book so much. Lyrical, magical, uplifting, heartbreaking, amazing. All these words and so many more describe this book for me. One I didn't want to put down. A story I didn't want to end. So, so, so, SO beautiful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    I didn’t realize when I started reading Nina George’s The Little French Bistro that I would enjoy it as much as I did. The book was relatively short (Goodreads shows it at 336 pages but the proof copy I received was actually a little under 300 pages), yet it was rich in charm. I found it easy to get into the book from the start and truly enjoyed getting to know all of the delightful characters in a picturesque setting that was a “feel-good” read pretty much all the way through. The story starts I didn’t realize when I started reading Nina George’s The Little French Bistro that I would enjoy it as much as I did. The book was relatively short (Goodreads shows it at 336 pages but the proof copy I received was actually a little under 300 pages), yet it was rich in charm. I found it easy to get into the book from the start and truly enjoyed getting to know all of the delightful characters in a picturesque setting that was a “feel-good” read pretty much all the way through. The story starts off with a 60-year-old woman named Marianne who has been stuck in a loveless marriage for 41 years and has finally decided that, for once in her life, she would do what she wants to do rather than what others dictate that she do. On a trip to France, she decides to jump into the Seine river in the hopes of ending her life – a decision that she bravely and unhesitatingly makes because it made her feel free and happy and useful for the first time in her adult life. However, it was not meant to be, as she is saved by a homeless man who happened to be nearby and sent to the hospital to recover. When she is reunited with her husband Lothar at the hospital, he not only doesn’t show an ounce of concern for her well-being, he actually berates her for being stupid and ruining his vacation. He then decides to return home to Germany by himself and, as a “punishment” of sorts, he leaves Marianne behind to make the trip back with a psychologist. During her stay at the hospital, Marianne comes across a beautifully painted tile of a place called Kerdruc, which she later finds out is a picturesque little port village in Brittany, on France’s western coast. Inexplicably attracted to the beauty of the town depicted in the tile and still wanting to end her own life, Marianne escapes from the hospital and sets off for Kerdruc with barely anything to her name. Once there, Marianne is surprised and overwhelmed by the warm welcome she receives from the locals, a colorful cast of characters who quickly embrace her into their world and without knowing it, help Marianne get her life back. While at first it might seem like the story should be sad and maybe even depressing due to Marianne’s suicide attempts and the unhappy life that she led for so many years, it actually ends up being far from that. Everything that Marianne experiences in Kerdruc as well as the people she meets there turned the story into a heartwarming, uplifting story of hope and second chances. I loved the writing in this book and the way the author used just the right amount of descriptiveness to make us feel as though we were there in Kerdruc alongside Marianne. The way the little town was described made me want to visit there someday (though admittedly I know so little about France’s geography that I have no clue whether that town actually exists or not). Aside from the setting though, what really drew me into the story were the characters – not just Marianne, but also the wonderful “supporting” characters who each had side stories of their own, yet did not detract from the main story involving Marianne. I loved reading about each of the characters and even though all of them go through their fair share of issues, it is their attitude of finding happiness in life’s small moments and the spirit of living life to the fullest regardless of whatever setbacks may come their way that made them so endearing to me. My favorite characters were Emile and Pascale Goichon – an elderly couple living in a house in the forest surrounded by dozens of stray cats and dogs. Emile suffers from the early stages of Parkinson’s while Pascale has dementia and at times can barely remember who her husband is, yet the love this couple has for each other spans 50 years and they would go to the ends of the earth for each other if given the chance. I enjoyed reading about this sweet elderly couple, along with all the other characters I got to meet along the way – from the lovesick chef Jean-Remy to uptight bistro owner Madame Ecollier to young waitress Laurine, the painter Yann Game, also Paul, Simon, Colette, Marie-Claude – too many characters to name, all with flawed personalities but yet endearing and likeable. We don’t see a whole lot of books nowadays where the central characters are older generation folks in a sort of reverse coming-of-age story, which I felt was the most unique aspect of this book. Most of the characters were in their 50s and 60s, with a few who were older and only two (it could have been three?) characters who were “young” enough to be the older characters sons or daughters (the younger characters’ exact ages weren’t given in the story but I’m assuming they were in their 30s or 40s?). Even though I’m relatively young in comparisons to majority of the characters in the book, that did not stop me from appreciating the message that the story attempts to deliver: namely that it is never too late to follow your dreams and find true love. Received ARC from Random House via Penguin First-to-Read program.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leith Devine

    3 1/2 stars I had a hard time getting through the Little French Bistro, an unusual occurrence for me. The book was not what I had expected, and the cheery title doesn't match the story. I enjoyed Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, and I was expecting something similar from this book. The book started out in a very depressing way, with Marianne running away from her husband to Paris and trying to kill herself. She gets to the Breton region of France rather improbably, and accidentally becomes 3 1/2 stars I had a hard time getting through the Little French Bistro, an unusual occurrence for me. The book was not what I had expected, and the cheery title doesn't match the story. I enjoyed Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, and I was expecting something similar from this book. The book started out in a very depressing way, with Marianne running away from her husband to Paris and trying to kill herself. She gets to the Breton region of France rather improbably, and accidentally becomes a cook in a bistro. She keeps up the running away/changing her mind through most of the book, even after she got into what seemed to be a happy and safe position. I lost patience with her and her attitude. On the positive side, the descriptions of the Breton region of France were evocative and the rest of the characters were sympathetic and likeable. I like Nina George's writing, but was not fond of this particular book. My thanks to Crown and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    salmaagroudy

    I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Well, that was definitely one lovely journey. Nina George's books always make me feel two things: 1) that i'm hungry almost every time i pick any of her books up, and 2) that i want to pack a bag and run away somewhere. Despite the fact that George's books are about adults and the difficulties they face while trying to navigate their lives, i always feel like i'm on an adventure whenever i'm reading a story of hers. The s I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Well, that was definitely one lovely journey. Nina George's books always make me feel two things: 1) that i'm hungry almost every time i pick any of her books up, and 2) that i want to pack a bag and run away somewhere. Despite the fact that George's books are about adults and the difficulties they face while trying to navigate their lives, i always feel like i'm on an adventure whenever i'm reading a story of hers. The story of the Little French Bistro was bold, fearless, vibrant, colourful. Not at first, but eventually. And it's one of those books that you read and start writing down places that you want to visit and see, it's one of those books that open your eyes to other parts, traditions and bits of history of different parts of the world. It also never fails to each you a little something extra about life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    What dreck! I feel like the author had fairies and pixie dust clogging her brain when she wrote this because this book is full of cliched characters, silly plot developments, sappy language, fulsome imagery and ridiculous storylines. It takes a lot for me to really dislike a book about 1) some fabulous place in France and 2) a heroine getting a makeover, but boy this book was bad enough to achieve that tricky feat. That's about all it achieves aside from tiredness and sloppiness. Listen, I don't What dreck! I feel like the author had fairies and pixie dust clogging her brain when she wrote this because this book is full of cliched characters, silly plot developments, sappy language, fulsome imagery and ridiculous storylines. It takes a lot for me to really dislike a book about 1) some fabulous place in France and 2) a heroine getting a makeover, but boy this book was bad enough to achieve that tricky feat. That's about all it achieves aside from tiredness and sloppiness. Listen, I don't mind a book with some silliness, some unrealistic plots or hard to believe characters, but this book was not even written well and was full of little gems like, the sea knew the truth in her eyes or the cat saw into her soul. Blech. I enjoyed this author's previous novel even though it too, had a certain amount of thick soulfulness incorporated into it, but it was light as a feather and imminently more delightful compared to this leaden, unhumorous plodding mess of a novel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Babs

    Loved it - This is story of a woman who has denied herself the right to be an individual, to love and beloved, to have dreams. These denials led to a moment in her life when she decided she had lived long enough. However, she would begin to realize through events, that she had not lived for many years. Once she found joy, love, life and happiness, she had to confront herself to discover whether she deserved this new life. Left me smiling for all the people who became a part of her story... Defin Loved it - This is story of a woman who has denied herself the right to be an individual, to love and beloved, to have dreams. These denials led to a moment in her life when she decided she had lived long enough. However, she would begin to realize through events, that she had not lived for many years. Once she found joy, love, life and happiness, she had to confront herself to discover whether she deserved this new life. Left me smiling for all the people who became a part of her story... Definitely a must read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    JenniferD

    alright... so my second attempt at a nina george novel has also not gone well. she's so popular in france and germany. in my first outing (with The Little Paris Bookshop), i thought maybe i just did it wrong, so wanted to try again. i tried. i really did. this is a very melancholy story which is not really well supported by its plot or characters. i'm not sure if this will make sense to anyone, but it's a novel filled with events yet somehow manages to feel uneventful. the supporting characters w alright... so my second attempt at a nina george novel has also not gone well. she's so popular in france and germany. in my first outing (with The Little Paris Bookshop), i thought maybe i just did it wrong, so wanted to try again. i tried. i really did. this is a very melancholy story which is not really well supported by its plot or characters. i'm not sure if this will make sense to anyone, but it's a novel filled with events yet somehow manages to feel uneventful. the supporting characters were more of a draw for me than marianne... but all were underused and felt very surface-y. i wanted more depth from it all. there are dabblings with magical realism light that don't add much to the overall story. mostly, i am annoyed that, once again, a woman's purpose and strength and value is shown as being found in the love of a man - no matter the skills or talents she amazingly possesses. i did like the setting vey much. so there's that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suze Lavender

    Marianne and Lothar are in Paris, but even in this vibrant city Lothar manages to kill Marianne's joy and after forty-one years of marriage she can't take it anymore. Lothar doesn't see her, he's unkind, he cheats and he doesn't want his wife to have anything. He has never given her the idea that he loves her. Marianne kept waiting for a gesture, a token of love, but she now knows Lothar will never give it to her. She sacrifices and suffers and there's only one person who can make it stop. That' Marianne and Lothar are in Paris, but even in this vibrant city Lothar manages to kill Marianne's joy and after forty-one years of marriage she can't take it anymore. Lothar doesn't see her, he's unkind, he cheats and he doesn't want his wife to have anything. He has never given her the idea that he loves her. Marianne kept waiting for a gesture, a token of love, but she now knows Lothar will never give it to her. She sacrifices and suffers and there's only one person who can make it stop. That's why she and the Seine become one for a short time. While she thinks this will be the end of her life it's actually only the beginning. After receiving a sign Marianne travels from Paris to Kerdruc in Bretagne. It's where she thinks she's supposed to be, at least for the time being, for the short existence she still has left. She finds a job in Ar Mor, a restaurant with friendly, but suffering people. Slowly Marianne uncovers a side of herself that went missing in her marriage with Lothar. The healing effects of Kerdruc turn her into a different woman. However, Lothar is still her husband and she isn't in Kerdruc to stay, or is she? The Little Breton Bistro is a book to fall in love with. It's a story I could and will read over and over again. Marianne never learned to choose herself. She always did what Lothar expected of her and what's left is an empty shell. She has to go through something terrible to be able to hold on to life and maybe even dare living it. I loved her gentleness. She has such a big heart and she only gives and never takes. Her physical and spiritual journeys are both beautiful and it was amazing to see her grow, to become the most she could be. Marianne finds her brave side and discovers how gorgeous she can be, both on the outside and the inside. Age doesn't matter when it comes to finding love and happiness, as long as you're alive it's never too late, and that's an important lesson nobody should ever forget. Marianne finds the most delightful friends in Kerdruc. The inhabitants of the small coastal village are spirited, generous and caring. They discover love in the most unexpected circumstances and just like Marianne they have to learn to be courageous and they have to open their eyes before they can actually see what's always been right in front of them. That is what I loved the most about The Little Breton Bistro. To truly notice and be noticed is the most scary thing there is, but it's also the most rewarding. I enjoyed reading about every single character and they've all got a special place in my heart. Nina George has a stunning writing style. Her sentences always manage to enchant me from the very beginning of her stories. She perfectly captures the magic of France and describes Bretagne vividly and accurately. She makes it come to life the way it deserves and I could see the small village, taste the food and breathe in the air, which is something that can only be accomplished by a brilliant storyteller. I loved how Marianne doesn't only embrace her new surroundings, she also becomes part of them. I liked reading about the sea, the traditions and the wonderful celebrations. I had tears in my eyes and a smile on my face at the same time. Marianne struggles, but she perseveres and even though her path to become the woman she can be isn't smooth she always finds the right direction. Her life goes from bitter to sweet and back again several times. It's something I could easily feel and sympathize with. The ending of her story is romantic, spellbinding and terrific. It's a lovely surprising finale of a precious plot. I highly recommend The Little Breton Bistro, it's an absolute must-read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hill

    When Marianne’s attempts at suicide are thwarted, a whole new life of possibility is revealed to her. Never having read anything by Nina George and being slightly irritated by the use of the adjective ‘little’ in so many book titles of late I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading The Little Breton Bistro as I thought it would be another lightweight formulaic read. I was completely wrong. If I’m honest, I didn’t really think that the title did justice to the book. The Little Breton Bistro When Marianne’s attempts at suicide are thwarted, a whole new life of possibility is revealed to her. Never having read anything by Nina George and being slightly irritated by the use of the adjective ‘little’ in so many book titles of late I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading The Little Breton Bistro as I thought it would be another lightweight formulaic read. I was completely wrong. If I’m honest, I didn’t really think that the title did justice to the book. The Little Breton Bistro is an absorbing tale of what it means to live life to the full and not live down to others’ expectations. The marriage between Marianne and Lothar is, I suspect, typical of so many marriages and The Little Breton Bistro actually gives hope and life to those in similar circumstances. It is a salutary tale of making the most of life. The plotting is extremely good with every character in Kerdruc earning their place in the story and weaving a colourful tapestry of life, love and relationships. I really enjoyed the fact that Marianne and Yann, for example, are in their 60s and presented as warm human beings with real needs, insecurities and desires, rather than the 30 somethings of so many novels. But it was the overall quality of writing I really enjoyed. There’s a wry humour that balances perfectly the deeper aspects. All the senses are perfectly catered for from the crackle of stockings to the ozone taste of oysters so that the prose sizzles with life. Some of the phrasing was quite beautiful and made me think of Dylan Thomas, especially the descriptions of Kerdruc. I also loved the underlying mythology and art that came through the superstitions of the Breton community so that this is strong storytelling. The themes that underpin the characterisation are apposite and satisfying. Life threatening illness, dementia, love, bitterness and so on all feature but in a way that doesn’t expect readers to respond like thoughtless puppets. Nina George says what she has to say and leaves the reader to make up their own mind. I found The Little Breton Bistro quite a feminist read in lots of ways. So, quite differently from expectations, I really enjoyed reading The Little Breton Bistro. I could identify with the characters and themes and having read it felt my life had been enhanced. I highly recommend this uplifting tale of optimism, hope and love.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caity

    Oh I was hoping for this book to be another five star read like Nina George’s other book, The Little Paris Bookshop. Maybe I hyped it up in my head too much and there for it couldn’t live up to what I pictured. Pros: The writing was beautiful! A quote that a whole analytical essay could be written on, is: “to expect something greater after life was to forget that life was the greatest thing of all”. What a powerful and beautiful quote! I found the character Colette intriguing and I wanted more info Oh I was hoping for this book to be another five star read like Nina George’s other book, The Little Paris Bookshop. Maybe I hyped it up in my head too much and there for it couldn’t live up to what I pictured. Pros: The writing was beautiful! A quote that a whole analytical essay could be written on, is: “to expect something greater after life was to forget that life was the greatest thing of all”. What a powerful and beautiful quote! I found the character Colette intriguing and I wanted more information about her life and story. I really loved that she was the only one to tell the main character, Marianne, the mistake she was making close to the end. There was a mixture of languages and one of them was French! While there was only basic and minimum French in the book it was still good information to have to for my studies. Cons: Too many characters! I was so lost in the beginning. I rooted for Marianne the whole book, until the ending. How many times does she need to put herself down or let others put her down to know she deserved better?! However, I am glad she found her happiness in the end. Conclusion: I found this book beautifully written but something was missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This book is so relaxing. Even the dramatic scene at the beginning that breaks your heart is just written in a way that is soothing, like a back rub. (Is that weird for me to say? I think that's weird for me to say.) The Little French Bistro is a story about a middle-aged woman who is having a mid-life crisis, and understandably so. She is stuck in a loveless marriage with a brute of a husband who gives her no respect, hardly even an acknowledgement of her existence. Marianne needs to break free This book is so relaxing. Even the dramatic scene at the beginning that breaks your heart is just written in a way that is soothing, like a back rub. (Is that weird for me to say? I think that's weird for me to say.) The Little French Bistro is a story about a middle-aged woman who is having a mid-life crisis, and understandably so. She is stuck in a loveless marriage with a brute of a husband who gives her no respect, hardly even an acknowledgement of her existence. Marianne needs to break free from the prison of her life, and she finds that newfound, never-before-felt freedom in a little seaside town in Bretagne, France. That's really the entire plot of the novel and it is a quite a slow-moving, soft-paced story. I was expecting more action, but I was pleased with what I got instead. There is no excessive drama. Nina George writes in a way that is poetic. It's easy. It's soft. It's sweet. It's melodic. It feels like there's a life lesson in every sentence, and it is a bit cheesy, for sure, but it's also really just nice and calming. Thank you to the publishers and the author for an ARC of this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fani

    After reading "little paris bookshop" last year i really hesitated picking up Nina George's second book. You know when you love a book so much and you don't wanna read a second one by the same author because you are afraid he/she might ruin it... Well that was not the case here! I think with this book Nina george managed to overcome her first. It made me travel, feel and smell everything along with Marianne. It was a book i sincerely didn't wanna finish! I wanted to stay in this beautiful place After reading "little paris bookshop" last year i really hesitated picking up Nina George's second book. You know when you love a book so much and you don't wanna read a second one by the same author because you are afraid he/she might ruin it... Well that was not the case here! I think with this book Nina george managed to overcome her first. It made me travel, feel and smell everything along with Marianne. It was a book i sincerely didn't wanna finish! I wanted to stay in this beautiful place a little longer...More or less, this book was like taking a vacation in Kedrik, its people and their feelings.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    In the beginning chapters, I felt bad for Marianne’s hopeless and sad situation. In short order however, her circumstances shift, she embarks on a journey to self discovery and meets people who will be instrumental in changing the course of her life. Marianne takes one positive step after another, living a more tranquil life and growing the courage she needs to break away from her despicable husband of 40 years, Lothar. There are many interesting characters she meets along her path, but maybe to In the beginning chapters, I felt bad for Marianne’s hopeless and sad situation. In short order however, her circumstances shift, she embarks on a journey to self discovery and meets people who will be instrumental in changing the course of her life. Marianne takes one positive step after another, living a more tranquil life and growing the courage she needs to break away from her despicable husband of 40 years, Lothar. There are many interesting characters she meets along her path, but maybe too many. It was a good book to hibernate with on my hammock over the past couple of days.

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