Chocolate and romance – what more could we ask for? Set in York in 1915, The Chocolate Tin by Fiona McIntosh immerses us in a world of war where one woman’s dream to create her own chocolate leaves her entangled in the most unexpected love triangle.
Alexandra Frobisher is a woman who knows what she wants, and that’s to be a chocolatier. Brought up in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York, Alex has always desired her own career at Rowntree’s chocolate factory, much to her parents’ disgust. She can identify the smells of the cooking process in the air, she knows the history and she’s memorised the recipes, but Alex also understands that with her social standing, this ambition is near impossible. However, chocolate isn’t her only dream. She has received several proposals of marriage, but none of them promise what she truly desires – true love.
Matthew Britten-Jones is attractive, charming, and while he might be short, he makes up for it in charisma and social standing. Visiting York for his family’s railway company and working closely with Rowntree, it seems he could be Alex’s key to entering the factory. With wit and intelligence to match, he quickly seduces Alex’s parents and helps her achieve her goal of working in the factory, but asks one thing in return – her hand in marriage. Matthew is one of the first men Alex has actually feels a connection with, despite the constant feeling that he is hiding something. He makes her laugh, they can talk about anything, and he promises freedom, friendship and love, in its own way. Is it enough?
Fast forward to 1919, the war is over and Harry, a solider on a mission, travels to York in search of the answer to a mysterious message found on the body of a dead soldier. What he did not expect was Alex, now a tour guide of the Rowntree factory, and his instant connection to her. Despite knowing she’s married, Harry can’t seem to leave her alone, and to his surprise, the feeling is mutual. Harry senses trouble within Alex’s marriage and as she begins to open up to him, they’re soon caught up in something out of their control.
The Chocolate Tin is a heartbreaking novel about a love triangle in multiple forms. It reveals the harsh reality of love and sometimes, the bittersweet taste it leaves in your mouth. With twists that leave you reeling, Fiona McIntosh delves deep into some pressing issues of marriage and sexuality in a time period of constraints. The narrative flows effortlessly and as sparks begin to fly and secrets are uncovered, it’s impossible to put down. With the perfect blend of romance, mystery and intrigue, it’s everything you want in a curl-up-on-the-sofa read.
Falling in love with the leading men in this novel is easy, and the strength behind Alex, a woman too modern for her time, is inspiring. Each of these characters, despite their obvious flaws, have characteristics that resonate in all of us, making their situation one we can also relate to. When you’re not being swept away by the romance, it’s impossible not to notice the impeccable research and periodic details within The Chocolate Tin. Fast-paced, beautifully haunting and filled with the excruciating pain of love and war, it is a novel that will appeal to lovers of romantic period dramas like Downton Abbey or those who simply wish to be whisked away to another time, with the scent of delicious chocolate in the air. Probably best to have some by your side while you read…
Fiona McIntosh was born in England, spent her early childhood in West Africa and has lived in Australia for the past three decades. She worked for many years in the travel industry but after her shift to full-time writing she roams the world researching and drawing inspiration for her novels. To date she has written twenty-six novels, including seven novels for children.
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Look at the reading notes about The Chocolate Tin.