In this warm, engaging debut novel, four siblings make their way home, where their father, the memory of their mother, and long-held family secrets all collide just in time for Christmas
For Maggie Arnaud and her siblings, childhood Christmases meant lavish feasts and beloved rituals. The day began with hot chocolate and cougnole de Noel—the sweet, rich bread traditional in their parents’ native Belgium. Those special holidays ended with their mother’s death, and their father has grown more distant each year. But now, he has summoned his grown children once again. And none of them is eager to expose their imperfect lives to his scrutiny…
Jacqueline is an opera singer living in Brussels—outwardly successful but yearning for a deeper fulfillment. Near Philadelphia, cookbook writer Maggie’s career and marriage are in turmoil. Colette, an aspiring clothing designer in California, lost her boyfriend and her savings in one blow. And roving younger brother Art is still searching for something—or someone. Armed with their insecurities, rivalries—and their mother’s most delicious recipes—the Arnauds gather in Pennsylvania. But a good meal does more than feed the body—it awakens memories, nurtures bonds, and might even bring a family back together.
Includes classic Belgian recipes
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Kate Defrise grew up in the United States but spent summers with her family in Belgium, where she learned that great food was a catalyst to a great life. She earned her degree in translation in French and Italian from the Ecole d’Interprètes Internationaux in Mons. She worked as a translator and teacher in Belgium before moving to France, where she did a stint in radio and television. She lives and cooks in San Diego with her husband, two daughters, and a cat. Christmas Chocolat is her first novel. You can connect with her through Facebook, twitter, or her website, www.katedefrise.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
“Chocolate Does Solve Everything, Doesn’t It?” The Christmas Season is a difficult time for a majority of us and the Arnaud Family is no different. What are planned as festive celebrations in the various households are spun on their ornament axes when their stern, mournful Father, Philippe Arnaud summons all of his four children to his house for Christmas. He will not take “No” for an answer. Alarm tears through the Family as they have not shared Christmas in their old homestead since their beloved Mother passed some years ago. Could he be ill? Is he getting married for the umpteenth time? There are bound to be personality clashes, but no one could have predicted the unraveling of secrets and startling events that were about to unfold. Jacqueline is the eldest Daughter. She is a tall, stately beauty who is a renowned Opera Singer and lives with her Husband in the country of their ancestors, picturesque Belgium. Jacqueline has what most of us would consider a chaotic, full life, but it is lacking an important part—a child. This is her fondest wish, as well as her obsession. Magali, known as Gali or Maggie by her Father, who lives in Northwest Philadelphia, Pa., is a Culinary School Graduate and the Author of a highly successful cookbook series while balancing her life as a Wife and the Mother of two Daughters. She lives to cook and it sometimes helps her unwind and solve problems. She is the “glue” that has held the Family together. But, will her “Whisk techniques” be enough to pull her through the emotional times ahead? Will her most fervent dream be realized? Youngest Daughter, Colette, teaches at a local University in California, but her fingers are itching to employ the sewing talents and techniques she possesses and has used to make others happy. How about her chic designs and know-how make her happy for a change? Will her desire to be considered “Perfect” in her Father’s eyes, plus her fractured love life, hold her back? Art, also known by his Sisters as “King Arthur”, is their “Phantom Brother”. No one is quite sure what he does for a living and he is all but impossible to contact as they are never sure where he is residing at any given time. There is a mysterious coldness about him—but why? Has he been harboring a secret all of his life? Is it one that may destroy his Family as he knows them? Will the Christmas gathering thaw his demeanor, or make it worse? When he shows up at the gathering with someone young enough to be his Sister, if not his Daughter –his Sisters begin to wonder. As you begin following the lives, loves and antics of the Arnaud Family In-laws and Out-Laws, you will get so pulled in, you will not want to put this book down until you have finished the last page. It is not your ordinary “Women’s Fiction”--but a story that will stay with you long after you close the cover. My regrets are two—having to close the back cover when I finished, and only being able to give this book five stars. It is worth so much more!! Author Defrise pulls you in and sits you in a corner to watch the fracas unfold before your very imagination. She makes you feel as if you have known this Family and their Friends forever. The Author has also generously included several delectable Chocolate recipes which will have you drooling. “Christmas Chocolat” is not just a book for the holidays--it is a story which will warm your heart, make you smile, shake your head in disgust, and ultimately cheer loudly any day of the year. Nancy Narma
Christmas Chocolat by Kate Defrise Hadn't requested this book from the publisher but glad they sent it along. Starts out with a family and each of the sisters gets alternating chapters. The father this year wants to have Christmas at his house. His wife has been gone for some time and he is still going to work and relies on others to do the family obligations each year. One is an author, Magali who writes cookbooks and this book does have her Belgian recipes. Family dinner has always been at her house and this year she has to not only convince her other 2 sisters but she must track down her brother to come also. The sisters talk over time and some think it's to announce some bad health news while others think he's dating again... Jacqueline is the one who lives overseas and she has concerts to perform in so there's no way she's gonna make it home. Her father visits her yearly around Thanksgiving. She has her own secret... Next sister is Colette. She has degrees in French and English and she loves to design clothes. She makes each of her sibling an outfit for Christmas even her brother Arthur-Art. She will be out of a job by Christmas, her boyfriend left with all her furniture and money, so did the robber. What I like about the recipes is there are hints and tips and all kinds of substitutions and she tells you that while explaining how to make the dish. Also like that each of the sisters has a different lifestyle and it's easy to keep track of who is who. Each fears a different secret to be told by their father at their Christmas meeting... I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review
Tis the season for holiday reading and my mood for nostalgic family-oriented, food-filled, traditions of celebration-soaked stories. They can be saccharine sweet and I eat that stuff up. I wanted to read this one because this is a debut author and she writes about a Belgian American family of siblings who are all talented in their own ways and live their own lives, but are now being called home together for the first time in years. Each sister shares the narration in turns. Magali or Gali begins the story. She is the middle sister, the homebody, family anchor and custodian of their Belgian heritage and family traditions. Gali is a happily married wife, mother, homemaker, former chef, and published writer of cookbooks for the hopeless cook. She dreams of one day writing a novel and proving her worth to her father who seems to only look at her with criticism. Gali receives word from her father that he wants her to make sure all her siblings come home for Christmas. Gali is nervous as to why he suddenly makes such a request when their family has been scattered for years and he's never wanted to be around his children since even before their mother died. She reluctantly takes on this challenge of organizing the family homecoming even while her own life is in upheaval by her editor/agent retiring and a bit of temptation results from it that may destroy her own home. Getting her sisters home will take some doing and even finding her photo journalist brother will be nearly miraculous, but Gali refuses to disappoint a parent who seems always to be disappointed in her. Jacqueline is the oldest sister. She moved back to Belgium to pursue her music and is an opera star now. She adores her Belgian family and her ex-pat friends and relies on her husband as her anchor as they try for the one thing that Jacqueline is compelled to have before she will ever go home. She desperately wants a baby and feels that will make even her critical father see her as accomplished, but after several miscarriages her dreams dim and she worries that her need will break up her own marriage. Colette is the youngest sister living with her long-time boyfriend in San Diego. She knows none of her family approves of Wayne after the way he behaved before and she senses that they probably aren't impressed with her contractual job teaching French at the university and her hobby of making clothes on the side. Her world is torn apart when Wayne leaves taking most of the things in their cottage and all of her savings with a cold note and no explanation other than it won't work. The university cuts her job and she knows she cannot go crawling home for Christmas. But just when life is darkest, a handsome Italian and his ideas on life help her mend and maybe will help her find her way home. Alright, this was a deeply emotional tale of three sisters and a brother who are raised by a stern man who never got over the death of his wife and created a feeling of inadequacy in all his children no matter how much they accomplish and they accomplish a lot. Each sibling perfected their gifts and have succeeded, but they can't see it that way because they are so used to being told to do better. It was sad to see this. It was also interesting to see that all the sisters are in relationships and each of these situations is different and, though long-time, are still growing. Gali is tempted to stray, Jacqueline is pushing her husband to the point of breaking over her need
I actually got both a hardcopy and an e-arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is on the hard copy when regarding format. I really liked this book. It was a really cozy, comfortable book that you would want to read when coming down from thriller or action books. Great for reading during Winter Break, this is the type of book you'll want to read while curled up in front of the fire next to a cat or significant other. Characters: So, Magali was interesting enough. I enjoyed reading from her point of view but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Colette's chapters. I wanted to read so much more from Colette. I loved that you could tell which sister was older or younger than the other from their distinct voices. The only one that rubbed me the wrong way was Jacqueline because I felt there was waaaayy too much italicizing in her first chapter. She came around, though. Recipes: Honestly they sound really good but maybe not that great for a family on a budget. Plot: Easy to follow, fun to read, not terribly static or cliche. AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT DANTE FOR A SECOND OH MY LORD WHAT A SWEETIE PIE. Dante and Colette forever. I will ship it to the end. Format: The cover is so silky and it fits perfectly in my purse for taking to work. The actual paper looked and smelled a bit on the cheap side, but A) I got an arc so the finished product is bound to be different and B) if not, the story takes your attention right away from that you don't notice the pages at all once you start reading.