Author: Menna van Praag
Published: May2018 by Allison & Busby
Category: Magical Realism, Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy, Book Review
Jude is the owner of a unique antiques shop in Cambridge. She makes it her mission to match customers with the special something that they are missing, a talisman to bring them what their heart desires. Unfortunately, Jude’s life is not overflowing with the love she wishes for.
Viola is a single-minded perfectionist whose only heart’s desire is the position of Head Chef at one of Cambridge’s most prestigious restaurants. But when Viola keeps bumping into a widower, Mathieu, she begins to discover that there’s more to life beyond the kitchen.
The story is told from three main perspectives—Jude, Viola and Mathieu and is set in Cambridge. Jude owns Gatsby’s, an antique shop full of extraordinary and special items waiting for the right person to come and buy them. She’s quite lonely, a solitary person. But all that begins to change when she receives a telephone call from child services with some completely unexpected news. Life for Jude is about to get much more interesting.
Jude’s heart lifts when she matches a person with their special item but she has always wished she could find her own lucky charm, but year after year it had escaped her. Now she doesn’t think about it much and just gets on with the day to day running of the shop. The exception is Christmas Eve.
This could be the year. So Jude has told herself every single year. Though, of course, with each passing year her hope wanes. Just as it did when she was a child and she longed for a happier childhood.
Viola is a perfectionist. She learned from her father at a young age that if anything was worth doing, it was to be done with nothing less than excellence. Viola’s ambition, all she can think about, is to be head chef of the prestigious restaurant where she is employed, before she reaches thirty-six. To that end she works non stop, creating and perfecting dishes. Her boss has set his chefs a challenge—a cooking competition to be held on Christmas Eve. The winner would receive the title of head chef. Viola is on track with a dish she’s happy with…then she meets Mathieu.
Viola looks up then, meeting his eye. And, as she holds his gaze, she’s aware of the choice before her, a crossroads laying itself down, stone by stone.