Canela is a woman who is hungry, hungry for life, for love, for family and she finds herself in Paris after the death of one of her closest cousins. Canela escapes to Paris after the death of her cousin Luna, and after breaking off her engagement with Armando. Using what was supposed to be her honeymoon tickets, Canela goes to Paris and follows through with the arrangements with her cousin Rosemary, who lives in Paris. After the two weeks is over, Canela decides that she can’t go back to the US. She is angry at he cousin for passing away, she is angry with the President and the war in Iraq, but most of all, she is angry with herself and where her life is headed. She ends up staying in Paris and enrolls in an esteemed cooking school. When Rosemary’s mother in LA gets sick, Rosemary rushes to the States, leaving Canela alone in the US. During her year in Paris, Canela learns not only how to cook, but how to appreciate her life and her family.She meets a variety of characters and lives a variety of experiences and really sheds light on the nitty gritty in Paris.
The writing style reminded me of Lorraine Lopez’s The Gifted Galbadon Sisters and with a mix of Julia Alvarez. Josefina has a very witty and intimate writing style. She pulls the reader into the story with self-deprecating comments about Canela, thoughts and emotions that most people in their late-20’s tend to the feel. The “what am I doing with my life” and “Is this really something I want to commit to for the next 40-50 years” thoughts.
A rainy day in Paris is beautiful, like a postcard, when someone is there sharing an umbrella with you. But when you feel like the only person in the world who doesn’t speak French and doesn’t have an umbrella, it feels like a giant dog peeing on you.
With these thoughts, Canela finds herself in Paris and learns to shed her fears and break barriers in her life. I found the story to be inspiring. I even contemplated leaving my life in California and boarding a plane to Paris to enroll in cooking school. Lopez’s descriptions are very vivid and graphic. Since Paris is the city of romance and food, there are quite a few sex scenes sprinkled throughout the book, and there is very little warning before certain parts get sexy. Despite the erotica portions, I really enjoyed the way Lopez wrote about the food and cooking, and seeing Canela’s transformation as a person who hates George W. Bush and is frustrated with her life and family, to a person who learns to appreciate the United States and learns to appreciate and love her mother. This is a good book, with many laugh out loud moments.
Listen to an interview with Josefina Lopez HERE about Hungry Woman in Paris.
FINAL GRADE: A-Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez Grand Central Publishing, 3/9/2009 ISBN 0446699411 277 pages