Monday, 21 February 2011

Chocolate and Literature

Romance is not really a genre I read much of these days. Of course, when I was a teenager I devoured everything I could get my hands on that had the faintest whiff of romance about it: from one of my all time favourites, Pride & Prejudice to Tolstoy's War & Peace to Georgette Heyer. ChokLit is an independent publisher of romantic fiction but with a unique selling point. It pairs the heroes of it's novels with a specific chocolate bar. These days, I don't get much time for reading, but when ChokLit asked if I'd like to review one of their books, I couldn't resist such a fun idea.

I have to confess, I was a little concerned that the titles offered might be in the Mills & Boon vein, so I turned down the offer of two books, restricting my review to just one. Now, I don't really like sticking the boot in unnecessarily, but I will say I made the right decision; one was enough. The Silver Locket by Margaret James was most definitely not my kind of book. It started off as an easy read, fast moving with a potentially interesting, if predictable story line and it whiled away a couple of hours on a long train journey. However, it quickly became irritating and most unusually for me, I couldn't bring myself to finish it. Although the story was improbable, I could have forgiven this if the quality of writing had been of an acceptable standard. Unfortunately, the plot lacked internal coherence and the characters underwent rapid and highly unlikely personality changes as the story advanced. The characterisation was so superficial as to render it unbelievable - I found nothing to get my teeth into, so to speak.

The chocolate that the hero of this book was matched too was a bar of Divine 70% dark chocolate. I can see why that bar was chosen; Alex has a conscience which links into the fair trade ethical origins of this company. He is also a rather bitter and depressed man with a dark past. However, once one gets past this forbidding exterior, he's really a bit of a sweetie and I guess, if you like that sort of thing, Divine. I certainly appreciated eating the chocolate.

In conclusion, I think this is really interesting concept. Although this is not my kind of book and I'll refrain from reviewing any more, it is my kind of chocolate. What do you like to read with your chocolate?

22 comments:

  1. Personally, I don't find reading and chocolate compatible activities as they are each tasks I like to devote both hands to!

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  2. god this is fascinating... I do get the whole eating / reading experience... I guess its all about stimulating the senses and once there's a mention of food , if well written, in a book, then I just have to eat it...at the fire and knives event last weekend there were a couple of speakers talking about food and literature, not chocolate per say but food in general... One was 'Jane Austin and food', the other I can't remember but the presenter read a piece of literature and then handed out pieces of chestnut dipped in chocolate and when he reached the part in the piece about the main character eating theirs, we ate ours and it was a great experience!... great post C x

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  3. I love this post! I won't bother with that book then. I used to read a lot, then when the girls were babies I couldn't find the energy, now I am back to it. I have moved on from the classics of my youth to becoming obsessed by writers. It started with Alexander McCall Smith, more recently Margery Allingham and at the moment P D James. In between all that I read the James Bonds books which I loved. Does that make me sad? I also note that all of these have a crime theme. Does that mean anything? Now I am worried.

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  4. ? I don't get it, does the chocolate come with the book? What do you do when you want to re-read the book, what do you do about getting chocolate on the pages... and what about matching chocolate to the grey eyed heroines of Georgette Heyer. Fun post though, came shooting over from Twitter Choclette to see what it was all about!

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  5. Like Kath I like lots and lots of crime and particularly murder. I've read all the Patricia Cornwell - Kay Scarpetta novels also the Kathy Reichs books about Forensic Pathologist Tempe Brennan. But having run out of those books, I am looking for a new favourite author - preferably someone who has written lots and lots of books!

    PS I also have a bit of a thing about the terrible and predictable cake and cookie murders (including recipes) by Joanna Fluke ;)

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  6. While eating chocolate, I read chocolate, cooking, and baking blogs. Like this one.

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  7. Janice - Thank goodness it's not just me with the crime thing...

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  8. CC - good to see such dedication

    Dom - your fire and knives event sounds fascinating. Reading and chocolate used to go so well together, but now I only ever read in bed before going to sleep and even I am not really up for chocolate at that point.

    Kath - I've always been obsessed by writers, if I like one, I have to read them all. I'e also read a lot of crime so you are not alone and definitely not sad. Weirdly, I've read all the Mma Ramotswe books, but not any of McCall Smith's others.

    Joanna - so many questions, good ones though. I'd like to know about not getting chocolate on the covers and I'm certainly up for getting more chocolate on a 2nd reading. Yes GH was particularly fond of grey eyes - posh tea chocolates for those I think. Good to know my tweets are occasionally noticed - thank you ;-)

    Janice - I haven't read much crime for a long time so can't remember authors now. I know nothing about cake murders and will have to check that out for sure - thanks for that.

    Victoria - that's pretty much when I eat my chocolate these days too :)

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  9. I like the idea. I wonder if that would/has taken off...
    Romance...phew not since I was early teens as well. Dark chocolate...geez, far too frequently. I've turned in to such a hard core chocolate snob it's really quite funny, (I blame my husband completely.)
    What do I read? Usually the back of the wrapper to find out more of the chocolate ;-)

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  10. CityHippy - I do like your choice of reading material. As for the chocolate, I've tried to use good quality chocolate for a long time, but since starting this blog I too have become a bit of a chocolate snob and I'm sure I'd be much worse if I could afford it ;-)

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  11. What a great idea - must find out what they would pair with Little Women, my all time fave book which I always read while wolfing down any chocolate I could get my hands on lol

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  12. Chele - that's a great book which I too have read many many times.

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  13. I reach for the chocolate when reading any communication from banks, utility companies or the government. I'm eating to forget...and it works.

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  14. hmm strange idea but who needs an excuse to nom choc?
    thought this post was going to be about chocolate in literature: interesting:
    'like water for chocolate'

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  15. Chocolategirl - There are certainly plenty of books to write about and it would make for an interesting post - one day maybe. You're right again about "like water for chocolate" it's a great book.

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  16. I'm a literature person and it's interesting to read other people's comments on this. I think my favourite romantic novel is Wuthering Heights, or Jane Eyre. I like it how Jane Eyre is about two fairly ugly people, it gives it that special something. I hear they're making a Hollywood adaptation, though. I bet the characters will be gorgeous. I'd pair the novel with some Earl Grey and bitter chocolate.

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  17. Aino - Jane Eyre is another one of my favourite classics and I'm with you on the pairing you've given it. What about Wuthering Heights though?

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  18. Like Water for Chocolate?
    Love the name Choklit!
    I don't like eating and reading - books (the crumbs, the crumbs) but have just managed to get half a bar of Plain Green and Blacks down me whilst at the computer reading your blog updates!

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  19. Enjoyed your review even if you didn't like the book.

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  20. With chocolate I like to read juicy autobiographies!

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  21. With chocolate I also like to read the newspaper.

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