The Patron Saint of Lost Souls by Menna van Praag #MagicalRealism #Romance @mennavanpraag

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.

Mathieu, a widower with a young son, has relocated to Cambridge from his native Paris. Mathieu worries about his son who is still suffering from the loss of his mother. 

The Patron Saint of Lost Souls is a delightful story of new beginnings, love and loss with a flavour of magical realism running through. Set around Christmas time, the season itself very much in the background, the story weaves through the lives and different relationships with a directness that makes them all the more authentic, as their stories merge and they adjust to the changes thrust upon them. The characters themselves are wonderfully drawn and engaging, their emotions thoroughly believable. I enjoyed Jude and young Gertie, who is wise beyond her years. Menna van Praag captures the essence of magical elements in her books so well. I love the idea of matching people with objects that hold a special significance for that certain person. This is the second book I’ve read and have another in my to be read pile. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Hive

About the Author

Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella – an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer – Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her magical realism novels are all set among the colleges, cafes and bookshops of Cambridge. The House at the End of Hope Street (2014), The Dress Shop of Dreams (2015), The Witches of Cambridge (2016), The Lost Art of Letter Writing (2017) & The Patron Saint of Lost Souls (2018). Menna is currently at work on her upcoming fantasy trilogy, The Sisters Grimm. The first book in the series will be published in 2020 by Transworld (UK) & HarperVoyager (US).

Author links ~ Facebook | Twitter | Website

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