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The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

Debut author Laura Madeline is on the blog today with a dual-timeline story that mixes mouthwatering delights, family intrigue, a romance to shock society and a touch of grad-school angst into a story that is captivating and memorable.  Please read on for my review and an excerpt from

The Confectioner’s Tale

The dual timeline mixes with alternating point of view takes us to 1910 Paris and 1988 Cambridge, telling the story of Gui and Petra spurred by the discovery of a note stating “Forgive Me” and a photograph.

Gui is from Bordeaux, living hand to mouth trying to support his mother.  An opportunity to join the railroad with his best friend Nic sends him to Paris. In Paris, Gui finds a world vastly dfferent from the country he knows: hard work, poor conditions and few moments of luxury in turn of the century Paris.

Petra is approaching the end of her first year of doctoral studies in history, a position she believes was granted due to her famous grandfather, a noted historian.  With her grandfather’s death, Petra was left at loose ends, and her father’s disposal of his estate left her scrambling to gather papers and memories. At the bottom of a trunk she finds a note in her grandfather’s writing, with a photograph enclosed, noting the date of 1910. From here, she is obsessed with the puzzle, and a lecture from a biographer, insinuating a great scandal involving her grandfather sets her on a path heretofore unplanned.

Laura Madeline took this story in directions I never expected. Gui is the innocent, unaware of the finer things in life, but a chance encounter and a chocolat chaud started him on a path that could lead to nothing but heartache.  Petra, already reeling from her grandfather’s death, unsure about her doctoral work or her ability to complete it, and now a stranger threatening her grandfather’s good name.  The mystery is on, and she is determined to find an answer.

Slowly both stories unfold: Gui’s tale of moving from railroad ovens to bread ovens, an apprentice chef in a well-respected pastry shop in Paris, and the instant connection he feels for the daughter of the owner.  Petra’s obsession and friends (Cass and Alex) who help her put moments together, research clues, and provide support when it all becomes too much.

What emerges is captivating: descriptions of Paris then and now, the pastries, a mystery of love lost and a touch of romance for Petra all blend together, keeping readers turning the pages to learn both stories. Does Gui find happiness in his dreams of pastry, will Petra clear her grandfather’s name, what about her doctorate, can opening this mystery to scrutiny help or damage.  A wonderful story: evocative, memorable and utterly unforgettable.

The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

Title: The Confectioner's Tale
Author: Laura Madeleine
Genre: Dual Timeline, Historic Elements, Literary Fiction /Family Saga, Mystery Elements
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN: 1250100542
Published on: 20 September, 2016
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 336
Rated: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Get Your Copy: Amazon AllRomance Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo IndieBound Book Depository Google

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About the Book:

What secrets are hiding in the heart of Paris?

At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner's daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words 'Forgive me'. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Take a moment to savour an evocative, bittersweet love story that echoes through the decades – perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

Read an Excerpt

Cambridge, March 1988

I burst through the gates of King’s College just as the chapel bells mark the hour. I’m late, and of all the appointments I could be late for, this is the worst.

A group of anorak-wearing tourists are blocking the road. I weave through them, checking my watch. I had hoped to arrive in plenty of time, to find an inconspicuous seat at the back of the room, not to barge through the doors sweaty and dishevelled.

I take the courtyard at a run and a set of damp stone stairs two at a time. My reflection flashes past in a window: rain-soaked, ratty blond fringe dripping into my eyes. I push it back and hurry towards a pair of huge oak doors.

15th March, 11.00 a.m., reads a piece of paper tacked to the noticeboard outside:Unmasking a Legend: biographer Simon Hall on the late historian, author and critic J. G. Stevenson.

I quickly rearrange the scowl that has risen to my face into a grimace of apology at the woman minding the entrance. She sniffs disapprovingly but lets me pass. Bracing myself, I ease open the heavy door. The room is packed; students and academics alike are crammed into chairs, their breath fogging up the windows. Despite my efforts, the door creaks loudly on its hinges, and the man on the podium falters, looking my way. I keep my head lowered and edge along the back row to a spare seat.

‘As I was saying,’ the speaker continues, ‘we all know what happens when a well-known person dies: they get an obituary in The Times, a new commemorative volume of work and retrospectives in journals left, right and centre.’

Some of the younger members of the audience titter, eager to show their appreciation for the lecturer’s off-hand manner.

I eye him carefully. Simon Hall, the current darling of the history scene. Whenever comment is needed, on the radio or in newspaper articles, there he is. He’s not as young as his pictures suggest, I decide. True, his curly hair and open face make him look youthful, but there are creases at the corners of his eyes and the hint of a paunch developing. I slump down a little further in my seat and try to pay attention.

‘There is nothing wrong with paying homage to a great,’ he says, ‘and no one can deny that J. G. Stevenson was a talented historian. But how much do we truly know about him? Who was the man behind the books?’

He pauses for effect, looks around the room.

‘As a biographer, it is my job to answer these questions, and that means delving into a person’s past, discovering the things they might have preferred to keep to themselves. And, ladies and gentlemen, what I have discovered is that J. G. Stevenson was no saint.’

He leans forward on the lectern, intent, inviting every person there into his confidence.

‘Recently, I was granted access to Stevenson’s private correspondence, and there I found a letter. Written to him when he was a young man in Paris, it places him firmly at the centre of a scandal, one that he kept hidden even from his own family. I will discover the truth behind this mystery, and show you all the real J. G. Stevenson.’

When it is time for questions, I fidget and try to keep my arm wedged by my side, even though I’m simmering with anger. I listen to inane comments and sharp words, until finally, at the very end, I can’t stop my hand from shooting into the air.

‘I’m rather afraid we have no more time,’ the academic in charge of the event tells me. ‘Perhaps you could—’

‘So, it’s your intention to vilify a man just to be fashionable?’ I challenge Hall. ‘Or are you taking liberties with the dead, digging through private possessions in order to get more publicity?’

A hundred plastic chairs creak as people turn to look. I feel myself flush under their scrutiny, but keep my eyes fixed on Hall. He is smiling in a puzzled way as he peers through the crowd.

‘A bold question, Miss…?’

‘Stevenson.’

A volley of whispers sweeps the audience. The academic on stage is leaning forward to whisper something in Hall’s ear. I see the shape of my name on his lips and fight to keep my expression neutral. Hall, meanwhile, is surveying me with newfound interest.

‘I understand your indignation, Miss Stevenson, but you can’t deny your grandfather had his secrets.’

Copyright © 2015 by Laura Hounsom

 

About Laura Madeleine

After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, LAURA MADELEINE changed her mind and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. The author of The Confectioner's Tale, she now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese, and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom. She lives in the UK.

 

 

 

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