Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues

Trisha Ashley
May 2012, Chick Lit
Avon, $6.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 1847562779

Grade: B
Sensuality: Subtle

Sometimes Iím 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 fiancť Justin, a handsome doctor. Tansy is the successful author of the Slipper Monkeys series of childrenís books featuring colorful monkeys made from pipe cleaners. It sounds like the makings of a happy life. Itís not. Tansyís relationship with Justin has deteriorated over the years. Justin spends more time golfing than with Tansy, and when theyíre together he criticizes her clothes and weight and discounts her desire to have children. Justin wonít 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 isnít a servant in a stepmotherís 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. Itís obvious early on that Tansy is happier, and more herself, when sheís in Sticklepond with her aunt and friends. It was a huge relief when Tansy settles in Sticklepond after her auntís death and decides to take over the family shoe store.

Tansy turns the old family store into a sparkling bridal shoe store Ė Cinderellaís Shoes -- filled with fabulous wedding shoes and unique chocolate treats shaped like shoes. The store is a rousing success, much to the unhappiness of Tansyís 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 Tansyís 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 Tansyís grief is palpable when Aunt Nan dies, this isnít a sad book. Soon after Nanís 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 theyíre on a parallel path of discovery. Each night while Tansy listens to her auntís interviews, Ivo reads a bit of his recently deceased wifeís diary.

I love Tansy; sheís 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 itís 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 Justinís 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 authorís backlist.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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