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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez

Hungry Woman in Paris
Publisher:Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 0446699411
Pages: 288 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

A journalist and activist, Canela believes passion is essential to life; but lately passion seems to be in short supply. It has disappeared from her relationship with her fiancé, who is more interested in controlling her than encouraging her. It's absent from her work, where censorship and politics keep important stories from being published. And while her family is full of outspoken individuals, the only one Canela can truly call passionate is her cousin and best friend Luna, who just took her own life. Canela can't recover from Luna's death. She is haunted by her ghost and feels acute pain for the dreams that went unrealized. Canela breaks off her engagement and uses her now un-necessary honeymoon ticket, to escape to Paris. Impulsively, she sublets a small apartment and enrolls at Le Coq Rouge, Paris's most prestigious culinary institute.

Cooking school is a sensual and spiritual reawakening that brings back Canela's hunger for life. With a series of new friends and lovers, she learns to once again savor the world around her. Finally able to cope with Luna's death,
Canela returns home to her family, and to the kind of life she thought she had lost forever.

My Review:
I was really excited about this book when I picked it up. Any book about food is sure to be a hit with me. I was sad to find that Hungry Woman in Paris fell short. Before I get to what I didn’t like, let’s start with what I did like. The food scenes were great. They were descriptive and well-done. Some of Lopez’s best writing can be found in these scenes. The characters, descriptions and events in the foody scenes manage to compensate for most of the shortcomings of the rest of the novels. I wish they had been a more prominent part of the book but they were pushed to the background in favor of tacky sex scenes and musings (whinings) about how horrible being an immigrant made her feel.

My major issue with this book was the main character herself. Canela was completely impossible to like. It is impossible to like someone who is constantly whining and blaming everyone but herself for her failings.  She is so judgmental of everyone around her that I wonder how anyone would want to be friends with her. She acts like judge and jury to everyone else all the while ignoring her own failings. She is “obviously” perfect. It is everyone else who is responsible for the mess she has made of her life. It’s her parent, America, France, men, her cousin Luna…it goes on and on and on. I tried to like her, I did. It was just impossible.

The sex scenes were also a major turn-off. Literally. They were quite, frankly, disgusting. I mean at one point, Canela pauses an encounter and goes and throws up in the sinks. When she returns, her partner kisses her a she complains that HIS breath is stinky. Ugh! This woman is enough to make me grind my teeth in rage. The descriptions otherwise were clinical and occurred way too often. I am not the type to be offended by graphic sex scenes but if they are not done well, even the most liberal person can be grossed out, squicked and, to an extent and this is not easy to do with me, offended.

I also thought that the politics and the discussion of politics was too much. Too all over the place. Don't get me wrong. I agree with almost everything she says but is there any need for it be everywhere? I understood when I picked up the book that politics was going to play a part and I was actually looking forward to it but I did not expect that it was going to BE the book.

Overall, I thought the book was good. The food scenes were really well done and, mostly, the writing in general was good. I also really enjoyed reading it. It was quick and interesting. It was only when I started thinking after I put the book down that the annoyance started. However, if graphic sex scenes are not your thing or your politics are more conservative, Hungry Woman in Paris might not be the book for you. If you enjoyed Julie and Julia, this book would be great for you.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. After I read this book, I lent it to my sister but told her, do not let mom read it! I enjoyed it but do agree that the sex scenes don't need to be as graphic as they are.

  2. I think they are the major part of what turned me off with this book. I would have really liked it without them. They lacked something but I just can't place it.

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