Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues
Sometimes I’m attracted to a book for trivial reasons such as a pretty cover. In this case it was the title. While not perfect, this Chick Lit take on the Cinderella story fit my mood perfectly, giving me an enjoyable read, a number of laugh out loud moments, and a wonderful heroine.
Tansy Poole seems to have it all. She lives in London with her fiancé Justin, a handsome doctor. Tansy is the successful author of the Slipper Monkeys series of children’s books featuring colorful monkeys made from pipe cleaners. It sounds like the makings of a happy life. It’s not. Tansy’s relationship with Justin has deteriorated over the years. Justin spends more time golfing than with Tansy, and when they’re together he criticizes her clothes and weight and discounts her desire to have children. Justin won’t even go to the Village of Sticklepond with Tansy to visit her beloved Great Aunt Nan, who is 92 and in failing health.
While Tansy isn’t a servant in a stepmother’s home, like Cinderella she has two wicked former stepsisters. Instead of a wicked stepmother, Tansy has a truly awful mother and potential wicked mother-in-law. It’s obvious early on that Tansy is happier, and more herself, when she’s in Sticklepond with her aunt and friends. It was a huge relief when Tansy settles in Sticklepond after her aunt’s death and decides to take over the family shoe store.
Tansy turns the old family store into a sparkling bridal shoe store – Cinderella’s Shoes — filled with fabulous wedding shoes and unique chocolate treats shaped like shoes. The store is a rousing success, much to the unhappiness of Tansy’s new neighbor, Shakespearian actor Ivo Hawksley.
Just as I hated Justin from the moment I met him, I adored Ivo. Ivo is outrageous and overly dramatic, determined to complain about every aspect of the Village, and particularly about the noise created by Tansy’s customers. Some of his grumpy proclamations to Tansy had me laughing out loud. Almost in spite of herself Tansy is soon making wonderful pastries to fatten Ivo up.
Though Tansy’s grief is palpable when Aunt Nan dies, this isn’t a sad book. Soon after Nan’s death Tansy is given a series of recorded interviews Nan made with a local historian detailing major parts of her life. Tansy keeps her aunt alive by listening to the recordings each evening. As Tansy and Ivo get closer, they discover they’re on a parallel path of discovery. Each night while Tansy listens to her aunt’s interviews, Ivo reads a bit of his recently deceased wife’s diary.
I love Tansy; she’s a caring, quirky woman. She lost a lot of her self-confidence in her relationship with Justin and comes to realize she stayed with Justin more out of habit and a desire to have children than out of enduring love. Tansy does get a romance, but it’s very subtle and appears late in the story. The focus is squarely on Tansy as she decides where she wants to live, what she wants to do with her life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and just a few things kept me from giving it a higher grade. I tired of Justin’s repeated attempts to get Tansy back. I would have liked more of Ivo and less of the annoying Justin. I also could have done without the subplot about the national store chain moving into the area. Despite these problems, I heartily recommend this to readers who enjoy Chick Lit. As for me, I intend to search out the author’s backlist.