Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch : a Modernisme and chocolate lover’s dream. #Barcelona #architecture #chocolate #readinglist #Modernisme

Following my recent trip to Catalunya I revisited Barcelona a city I love, not least for it’s amazing Modernisme architecture. As I like to mix a bit of travel, history and reading on my blog, this post represents an eclectic mix of all three. I’d like to acquaint you with some amazing architecture coupled with chocolate (thought that last bit might grab your attention!). As I’m ostensibly a book blogger, I’ve accompanied the piece with a tasty little chocolate flavoured reading list.

On Barcelona’s elegant Passeig de Gràcia, in the Eixample district, you’ll find what is commonly referred to as the ‘Block of Discord’ (or Illa de la Discòrdia in its native Catalan). This block includes three iconic buildings designed by Barcelona’s three leading Modernisme architects.  They are Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner,  Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Casa Batlló by perhaps the most well known of the three (outside of  Barcelona) namely Antoni Gaudí.

manzana-de-la-discordia-lleo-morera-in-foreground
An original postcard of the ‘Block of Discord’ Image taken from http://www.barcelonas.com

 

The Modernisme style in Barcelona (Modernismo in Spanish) was a reaction to the prevailing style of the 19th century and flourished largely between 1890 – 1910. It was a movement that emerged across many countries in Europe at roughly the same time. Though not identical in style, it can broadly be exemplified by it’s fluid lines and curves, which took its inspiration from natural forms and structures. In the UK we would recognise the style as Art Nouveau (adopting it’s French name). The aforementioned ‘Block’ serves as an example of how the style, while reflecting the fluid lines and natural forms, can be interpreted to produce wildly different buildings. 

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Casa Lleó Morera

 

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Casa Amatller
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Casa Batlló

 

 

But before we look at more detail at my chosen subject, the Casa Amtller, here’s a bit of background to how the area grew up.

 

The Passeig de Gràcia and the Eixample District

 

The Passeig de Gràcia was originally a semi rural pathway, surrounded by gardens and known as the Camí de Jesús after the 15th Century Franciscan convent of Santa Maria de Jesús. This was located somewhere between the current Gran Via and opposite the site of Casa Batlló. It continued beyond this point as the Cami de Gràcia leading as it did, to the outlying town of Gràcia to the north. The convent fell victim to the Napoleonic Wars and was demolished in 1813, which allowed for the consideration of improving the area. 

The liberal municipal authorities made plans to undertake an urbanisation project and commissioned military engineer Ramon Plana to undertake the work c.1820-1823. Unfortunately a series of epidemics that befell Barcelona prevented the start of any work. The project was picked up by José Bernaldo de Quirósin (the General Marquis of Campo Sagrado). By 1827 the new avenue was a wide (138ft) tree lined space used largely by the aristocracy to display their horse riding skills and show off their expensive horse-drawn carriaged. The lack of general public use, was due to it still falling outwith the city walls.  

Things began to change in the 1840’s when the avenue gardens were opened up. This was a revelation to the inhabitants of the old town, used to the densely populated, dark, narrow streets. The gardens became a source of entertainment with seating, refreshments and fairground rides, the most well known was probably the Camps Elisis which boasted its own roller coaster.

In 1855 Barcelona’s adjuntament city council authorised the demolition of the medieval city walls that had been hampering the growth of the city. Four years later they held a competition for plans to enable the major expansion of the city. The competition to oversee this expansion (Eixample in Catalan) was won by Ildefons Cerdà and permission was granted for work to star in 1860. His design  comprised a strict, grid like pattern of long straight streets crossed by wide avenues, with square blocks and unusual chamfered corners. This latter feature made for improved traffic visibility at intersections and increased sunlight and ventilation. Cerdà’s dream was to see a mixed society, but tweaks to his plan saw less green space, narrower streets and an influx of higher class residents.

The Passeig de Gràcia saw buildings built on either of the avenue that reflected this new model. However some of these buildings began to change shape again at the turn of the century and the buildings we acknowledge as reflecting the best of Barcelona’s Modernisme architecture are attributed to this period. The ‘Disaster’ of 1898 saw the end of the Spanish-American War with the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. While this signalled the end of access to protected markets, it is also said to have seen wealthy Catalan industrialists start to move their investments back from the colonies into Spain. It also coincided with a growing sense of isolation from central government and a movement towards promoting the Catalan identity. The growing Modernisme movement offered them the opportunity to show Barcelona, Spain and the world something uniquely Catalan.

The Passeig de Gràcia was the place to be in this period and Barcelona’s wealthy families commissioned the best architects and craftsmen in town to build them. While this undoubtedly created a ‘competition’ between the architects it was a competition fuelled equally by the families themselves.  Casa Amtller was the first of these buildings to grace the Block of Discord.

 

Casa Amatller, 41 Passeig de Gràcia

 

The first building on the this site was Casa Martorell built in 1875 by Antoni Robert. It was a three-storey, neoclassical style building in keeping with the Cerdà plan. When the building was bought in 1898 by chocolate manufacturer Antoni Amatller i Costa, he wanted the property remodelling and sought out the services of architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

 

250px-Audouard-PuigCadafalch-0316Josep Puig i Cadafalch, while perhaps not the most well known of the three great Modernisme architects, was by far the most prolific. Born in 1867 in Mataró, he studied architecture in Barcelona. The majority of what are seen as his most attractive buildings fall within the Modernisme period.

Between 1917 and 1924 he was President of the Mancomunitat of Catalonia (regional government). He went into exile during the Spanish Civil War as he found it problematic working under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. When he returned to Barcelona in 1942, the Franco regime banned him from working as an architect. He died in 1956.

 

The original building had essentially been a block of flats. Puig i Cadafalch was tasked with making the building a residence for the Amatller family, giving it the appearance of a single gothic palace. To this end, the facade was demolished and rebuilt with a range of colours and decorative iconography. In Catalan the word Amatller means almond tree, and there are numerous references to the family name, these include the flowering almond tree branches twisted into capital A’s and the gargoyles in the shape of an A. In direct contradiction of Cerdà’s plan, and flying in the face of the classic rules of symmetry and regularity he also created a stepped Flemish style gable roof which surpassed the 22 metre height limit. The work which began in 1898 was completed in 1900. It is perhaps a shame that it’s next door neighbour a few years later was to be the extravagent Gaudi creation Casa Battló which has probably overshadowed this incredible building.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Amatller

 

Chocolate Amatller was founded in Barcelona in 1797 and it’s considered one of the oldest chocolate makers in Europe.

 

Antoni-Amatller-Costa-e1513012198863Antoni Amatller i Costa (1851-1910), son of Antoni Amatller Ràfols, was the successor of the Chocolates Amatller factory. At the age of 19, recently married, his father and uncle sent him on a training trip abroad, where he visited the main Swiss and French chocolate factories so that he could prepare to take over the business. In 1878, he built a new factory in Sant Martí de Porvençals with the most modern German and French machinery. He incorporated advertising techniques into the company to expand its market. He was a photographer-traveller who toured Morocco (1903), Istanbul (1905) and Egypt (1909) taking photographs, as well as participating in international amateur photography competitions. He was also an important collector of archaeological glass, which today is kept in Casa Amatller.

(Image and information taken from https://casessingulars.com/en/las-casas/casa-museo-amatller/)

 

The Amatller family were great patrons of the arts and the original art, from which the packaging has been developed, is still on show at Casa Amatller in Barcelona. Amatller brand was taken over by Chocolates Simón Coll in 1972.

In order that Chocolat Amatller retained it’s personality, the chocolate and confectionery range is still packaged in the Art-Nouveau style reproductions of  the beautifully illustrated wrappers and tins originally designed by artists like Alphonse Mucha for Chocolate Amatller in the 19th century. 

 

 

 

 

There are several outlets in the UK supplying Chocolate Amatller, as I’ve not used any of them I’m loath to include links here, so I suggest a quick Google of “Chocolate Amatller UK” so you can make your own choices. Or better still use it as an excuse to visit Barcelona and buy them at Casa Amatller!!

 

A chocolate inspired reading list

Usual rules apply – this list is not exhaustive, do you know how many book include chocolate in the title (with some dodgy content) or have a chocolate theme? The titles listed are an eclectic mix of books I’ve read, own, want to read or would read. Enjoy!!

To make life easier I’ve also created an ideas list on Amazon which in theory (I hope) means if you click this link you can access all the books on the list without having to make a note of them all.  (You can still click on the image for the Amazon link).

 

The Discovery of ChocolateThe Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie

A wonderfully inventive and entertaining journey through time and the history of chocolate!

The Discovery of Chocolate is a fabulous tale, as rich and exotic as the gorgeous creation that Diego de Godoy first discovers when he arrives in Mexico with Cortes and his conquistadors.

Diego is seeking his fortune in the New World. What he finds is love, and chocolate, and an elixir of life. Separated from his lover, he must wander the world, and the centuries, in search of the fulfilment that he first knew in Mexico.

In a series of dramatic episodes that are evocative, witty and thought-provoking, from revolutionary Paris to Freud’s Vienna, Fry’s Bristol and Hershey’s Pittsburgh, Diego and his ever-faithful greyhound, Pedro, seek the perfection of chocolate and the meaning of life.

 

Like Water For ChocolateLike Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies.

But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her.

For the next twenty-two years Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

 

The ChocolatierThe Chocolatier by Paul Thomas

 

Patrick is the proud owner of White Rabbit chocolate shop, his life is great apart from one thing. Love. He is desperate to find love and thinks he will never find it until one day when Becca the owner of a second hand book shop walks into his life.

 

(NB only 126 pages)

 

ChocolatChocolat (Chocolat 1) by Joanne Harris

When a mysterious stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet with her daughter and opens an exotic chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynauddenounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock – especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial.

As passions flare and the conflict escalates, the whole community takes sides. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the sinful pleasure of a chocolate truffle

 

The Lollipop ShoesThe Lollipop Shoes (Chocolat 2) By Joanne Harris

Seeking refuge and anonymity in the cobbled streets of Montmartre, Yanne and her two daughters live peacefully, if not happily, above their little chocolate shop. Nothing unusual marks them out; no red sachets hang by the door.The wind has stopped – at least for a while. Then into their lives blows Zozie de l’Alba, the lady with the lollipop shoes,ruthless, devious and seductive.

With everything she loves at stake, Yanne must face a difficult choice; to flee, as she has done so many times before, or to confront her most dangerous enemy…

Herself.

 

Peaches for Monsieur le CuréPeaches for Monsieur Le Curé (Chocolat 3) by Joanne Harris

It isn’t often you receive a letter from the dead.

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she allows the wind to blow her back to the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop. But Lansquenet is different now: women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the church: a minaret.

Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought change. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him now?

 

The Strawberry ThiefThe Strawberry Thief (Chocolat 4) by Joanne Harris

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray.

The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…

 

Chocolate GirlsThe Chocolate Girls by Annie Murray

In Annie Murray’s bestselling Chocolate Girls, three very different women work together at Cadbury’s Bournville factory, and their lives become entwined by war and work – and a child called David.

Edie marries young to escape her unhappy family home. Widowed at nineteen and, after losing her child from the marriage, she faces the war grieving and lonely. Then one night during the Blitz, an infant mysteriously abandoned during the bombing is handed into her care . . .

Ruby, meanwhile, doesn’t want to be left behind in the wedding stakes and settles for marriage with Frank.

Finally there’s Janet, kind-hearted and susceptible to male charm, who is hurt desperately by an affair with a married man.

David, the child who steals Edie’s heart as she brings him up through a time none of them will ever forget, is the love of all their lives. And when David is old enough to wonder who he really is, he leads Edie through struggle and heartache to a life and love she would never have dreamed of . . .

 

The Bells of Bournville GreenThe Bells of Bournville Green by Annie Murray

Pretty seventeen-year-old Greta has never known a stable family life. With no father, and loathing her mother Ruby’s latest boyfriend, Greta finds life hard at home and is happiest at work with her friends at the Cadbury factory in Birmingham where she is popular with the boys.

Life takes a turn for the worse when her missing vixen of a sister Marleen turns up during the freezing winter of 1962. Greta soon decides that her only way out is marriage, but all too soon she discovers that life with her old class mate Trevor is not a ticket to freedom and happiness. She finds herself on the streets, pregnant and homeless . . .

She is taken in by her mother’s old friends, Edie and Anatoli Gruschov. In Anatoli, Greta finds the father she has never had. Kindly Edie loves to mother people and is desperately missing her son David and his family who have settled in Israel. But the love and security of this haven is soon shattered by appalling tragedy, which affects all the chocolate girls and their children and changes life forever . . .

 

Friends, Lovers, ChocolateFriends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel Dalhousie thinks often of friends, sometimes of lovers, and on occasion of chocolate. As an Edinburgh philosopher she is certain of where she stands. She can review a book called In Praise of Sin with panache and conviction, but real life is . . . well, perhaps a bit more challenging – particularly when it comes to her feelings for Jamie, a younger man who should have married her niece, Cat. Jamie’s handsomeness leaves Isabel feeling distinctly uneasy, and ethically disturbed. ‘I am a philosopher’, she thinks, ‘but I am also a woman’. And more disturbance is in store. When Cat takes a break in Italy, Isabel agrees to run her delicatessen. One of the customers, she discovers, has recently had a heart transplant and is now being plagued by memories that cannot be rationally explained and which he feels do not belong to him. Isabel is intrigued. So intrigued that she finds herself rushing headlong into a dangerous investigation. But she still has time to think about the things that possess her – things like love and friendship, and, of course, temptation. The last of these comes in many forms – chocolate, for example, or seductive Italians . . .

 

Loveliest Chocolate Shop in ParisThe Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.

 

The SweetheartsThe Sweethearts by Lynn Russell & Neil Hanson

Whether in wartime or peace, tales of love, laughter and hardship from the girls in the Rowntrees factory in Yorkshire

“On a warm Monday morning in 1932, just two days after leaving school, fourteen-year-old Madge was about to join her nine brothers and sisters at Rowntree’s. The smell of chocolate was in the air but as she walked up the road, her footsteps slowed at the daunting thought of what lay ahead…”

From the 1930s through to the 1980s, as Britain endured war, depression, hardship and strikes, the women at the Rowntree’s factory in York kept the chocolates coming. This is the true story of The Sweethearts, the women who roasted the cocoa beans, piped the icing and packed the boxes that became gifts for lovers, snacks for workers and treats for children across the country. More often than not, their working days provided welcome relief from bad husbands and bad housing, a community where they could find new confidence, friendship and when the supervisor wasn’t looking, the occasional chocolate.

 

Cosy Christmas Chocolate ShopThe Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

The snow is falling, the hot chocolate’s warming, and hearts are melting . . .

Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.

From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.

With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.

The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart?

 

The Cosy Seaside Chocolate ShopThe Cosy Seaside Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

When Emma opened her gorgeous little chocolate shop in the harbour village of Warkton-by-the-Sea, she realised a lifelong dream. Love is also blossoming with her hunky beau, Max, who’s slowly healing her fragile heart.

Summer is here and life has never felt so sweet. Until the rainclouds start to gather…

A rival sweet shop and killjoy landlord give Emma a headache, and when a face from the past turns up unannounced, Emma finds herself spiralling down memory lane. With Max’s crazy work schedule driving him to distraction, Emma’s in danger of making some choices she might regret . . .

With close friends, spaniel Alfie, and the whole village behind her, can Emma get the chocolate shop andher love life back on track?

 

The Chocolate Maker's WifeThe Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks (published 19 August but available to pre-order)

Damnation has never been so sweet…

Rosamund Tomkins, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, spends most of her young life in drudgery at a country inn. To her, the Restoration under Charles II, is but a distant threat as she works under the watchful eye of her brutal, abusive stepfather . . . until the day she is nearly run over by the coach of Sir Everard Blithman.

Sir Everard, a canny merchant, offers Rosamund an “opportunity like no other,” allowing her to escape into a very different life, becoming the linchpin that will drive the success of his fledgling business: a luxurious London chocolate house where wealthy and well-connected men come to see and be seen, to gossip and plot, while indulging in the sweet and heady drink.

Rosamund adapts and thrives in her new surroundings, quickly becoming the most talked-about woman in society, desired and respected in equal measure.

But Sir Everard’s plans for Rosamund and the chocolate house involve family secrets that span the Atlantic Ocean, and which have already brought death and dishonor to the Blithman name. Rosamund knows nothing of the mortal peril that comes with her new title, nor of the forces spinning a web of conspiracy buried in the past, until she meets a man whose return tightens their grip upon her, threatening to destroy everything she loves and damn her to a dire fate.

As she fights for her life and those she loves through the ravages of the Plague and London’s Great Fire, Rosamund’s breathtaking tale is one marked by cruelty and revenge; passion and redemption—and the sinfully sweet temptation of chocolate.

 

The Chocolate Lovers' ClubChocolate Lovers’ Club (Chocolate Lovers’ 1) by Carole Matthews

For Lucy Lombard, there’s nothing that chocolate can’t cure. From heartache to headaches, it’s the one thing she knows that she can rely on – and she’s not alone. Fellow chocolate addicts Autumn, Nadia and Chantal share her passion and together they form a select group known as The Chocolate Lovers’ Club. Whenever there’s a crisis, they meet in their sanctuary, a cafe called Chocolate Heaven. And with a cheating boyfriend, a flirtatious boss, a gambling husband and a loveless marriage, there’s always plenty to discuss . . .

 

The Chocolate Lovers' DietThe Chocolate Lovers’ Diet (Chocolate Lovers’ 2) by Carole Matthews

Survival tips for times of stress:
1. Take deep breaths
2. Count to ten
3. Eat chocolate

Lucy thought she had got her happily ever after with the gorgeous Aidan but things aren’t turning out the way she had hoped they would. But she’s not the only one with problems – Autumn’s new boyfriend has yet to meet her parents, Nadia’s husband has sworn he’s given up gambling but she’s finding that hard to believe, and Chantal is doing all she can to save her marriage. It’s clear that these girls are going to need a lot of chocolate.

 

The Chocolate Lovers' ChristmasThe Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas (Chocolate Lovers’ 3) by Carole Matthews

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . .

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.

Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

 

The Chocolate Lovers' WeddingThe Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding (Chocolate Lovers’ 4) by Carole Matthews

The ladies of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club should be gearing up for the wedding of the year but life keeps getting in the way . . .

Lucy is worried about her financial situation and it keeps distracting her. Should she accept an offer of help from an untrustworthy source?

Nadia may have a real chance at finding love but other areas of her life aren’t so rosy. Something needs to change – but what?

Autumn can’t wait to meet someone she hasn’t seen in a very long time. She’s full of hope for the future but then things don’t exactly go to plan . . .

Chantal has been through so much and she’s finally starting to feel settled. The last thing she needs is the kind of bad news that could change her life all over again.

And yet, despite all the ups and downs, the Chocolate Lovers’ ladies know they can get through it all as long as they have each other. They’re not going to let anything get in the way of their happy-ever-afters in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding.

 

Chocolate WishesChocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley

Life is sweet for chocolate maker Chloe Lyon…

In the picture-perfect Lancashire village of Sticklepond, Confectioner Chloe dispenses inspirational sweet treats containing a prediction for each customer. If only her own life was as easy to forecast – perhaps Chloe could have foreseen being jilted at the altar…

But when a new Vicar arrives in the village, the rumour mill goes into overdrive. Not only is Raffy Sinclair the charismatic ex-front man of rock band ‘Mortal Ruin’, he’s also the Chloe’s first love and the man who broke her heart.

Try as she might, Chloe can’t ignore this blast from her past. Could now be the time for her to make a wish – and dare to believe it can come true?

 

The Chocolate Run

The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

‘I didn’t mean to, honest to goodness I didn’t. It just happened.’

Amber Salpone doesn’t mean to keep ending up in bed with her friend Greg Walterson, but she can’t help herself. And after every time it ‘just happens’ their secret affair moves closer to being a real relationship, which is big problem when he’s a womaniser and she’s a commitment-phobe.

While Amber struggles to accept her new feelings for Greg, she also realises that her closeness to Jen, her best friend, is slipping away and the tow of them are becoming virtual strangers. Slowly but surely, as the stark truths of all their lives are revealed, Amber has to confront the fact that chocolate can’t cure everything and sometimes running away isn’t an option…

 

Pieces of HappinessPieces of Happiness : A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate by Anne Ostby

I’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset . Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out!

When recently-widowed Kat writes to her four old school friends, inviting them to live with her on a cocoa plantation in the South Pacific, they swap icy pavements and TV dinners for a tropical breeze and an azure-blue ocean. Leaving behind loneliness, dead-end jobs and marriages that have gone sour, they settle into the Women’s House, surrounded by palms and cocoa trees; and locals with the puzzling habit of exploding into laughter for no discernible reason.

Each of the women has her issues to resolve, and secrets to keep. But together the friends find a new purpose, starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness. As they embrace a new culture that views ageing so differently from their own, will they learn to accept and forgive: to discover the value of friendship, and a better way to live?

 

Charlee and the Chocolate ShopCharlee and the Chocolate Shop by Jessica Redland

Master chocolatier, Charlee Chambers, has plenty to be excited about as Christmas approaches. She’s moved in with her boyfriend, Darren, and she’s about to open a chocolate shop, following in her late granddad’s footsteps. If only Darren would show more interest in helping her refurbish Charlee’s Chocolates ready for a December opening.

When water starts pouring through the shop ceiling, and Darren can’t be contacted to help, emergency plumber Matt comes to the rescue. From that moment on, Matt does more to support Charlee in achieving her dreams than Darren ever has, and she finds herself drawn to him. But Matt’s engaged and Charlee loves Darren … doesn’t she? And Darren loves her … or at least, she thinks he does, but he’s been behaving a little strangely recently.

Then Charlee discovers that Darren has a secret. But so does Matt. And so, it seems, does the woman who abandoned her at birth …

 

The Chocolate ApothecaryThe Chocolate Apothecary by Josephine Moon

Christmas Livingstone has formulated ten top rules for happiness that she lives by: Nurturing the senses every day, doing what she loves, sharing joy… but the most important for her rules is absolutely no romantic relationships!

Her life is good as the owner of the enchantingly seductive shop, The Chocolate Apothecary. In her shop she can explore the potential medicinal uses of chocolate that make people happy. Her friends surround her and her role as a fairy godmother to her community allows her to share her joy. What she doesn’t need is a handsome botany ace who knows everything about cacao to walk into her life…

Or does she…

 

The Poisoned Chocolates CaseThe Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley

Graham and Joan Bendix have apparently succeeded in making that eighth wonder of the modern world, a happy marriage. And into the middle of it there drops, like a clap of thunder, a box of chocolates.Joan Bendix is killed by a poisoned box of liqueur chocolates that cannot have been intended for her to eat. The police investigation rapidly reaches a dead end. Chief Inspector Moresby calls on Roger Sheringham and his Crimes Circle – six amateur but intrepid detectives – to consider the case. The evidence is laid before the Circle and the members take it in turn to offer a solution. Each is more convincing than the last, slowly filling in the pieces of the puzzle, until the dazzling conclusion. This new edition includes an alternative ending by the Golden Age writer Christianna Brand, as well as a brand new solution devised specially for the British Library by the crime novelist and Golden Age expert Martin Edwards.

 

The Chocolate Egg MurdersThe Chocolate Egg Murders by David W Robinson

It’s Somerset for the Sanford 3rd Age Club and, at a busy charity weekend in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, Joe, Sheila and Brenda are looking forward to a relaxing time.

But along with the chocolate for the Great Egg Hunt, someone has hidden a body, and even before the rain stops, the STAC are in the thick of it. Threatened with violence as he tries to learn the identity of the bad-tempered redhead wandering round town, embroiled in blackmail and hidden personal histories, while the body count rises, Joe and his two companions struggle to make sense of what is going on around them.

With the Easter Bonnet Parade to come, it’s obvious these are no accidents.

They’re MURDER… amongst the chocolate eggs.

 

The True History of ChocolateThe True History of Chocolate by Sophie & Michael D Coe

This is the definitive, illustrated guide to Chocolate. Beginning 3,000 years ago in the Mexican jungles, it goes on to investigate archaeology, history, botany and socio-economics, and follows the story from the Aztecs up to todays mass-produced chocolate and its luxury versions. A treat, not just for chocoholics but for anyone who enjoys lively, thorough historical research. Sophie D. Coe, anthropologist and food historian, was also the author of ‘Americas First Cuisines’.

 

Chocolate And TentsChocolate and Tents by Roger David Francis

If it can go wrong it will go wrong, and it normally does. Becky encouraged by her boyfriend, Cal, agrees to go camping for the first time.
Nothing prepares her for a field in the middle of nowhere. Toilets, what toilets? Becky is forced to fall back on chocolate to survive. Cowpats are not a girl’s best friend and the farmer is grumpier than the Seven Dwarfs.
To say Becky is a little gullible would be an understatement. Becky finds herself doing the bidding of Hunter and Inca, middle aged hippies and seasoned campers.
This is one camping trip never to be forgotten. Rumours are rife of a spooky bushman who lurks around the campsite.
Can Becky save the day and restore normality or has the madness taken over leading to an endless comedy of errors?

 

Julia's ChocolatesJulia’s Chocolates by Cathy Lamb

When Julia Bennett leaves her abusive fiancé at the altar, she knows life will never be the same again. Seeking comfort, she heads to her Aunt Lydia’s rambling farmhouse where she is welcomed by an eccentric, warm, and wise group of women. Meeting once a week for drinks and the baring of souls, it becomes clear that every woman holds secrets that keep her from happiness.What will it take for them to become their true selves? For Julia, it’s chocolate. All her life, baking has been her therapy and her refuge, a way to heal wounds and make friends. But it can’t keep her safe. As Julia gradually opens her heart to a new life, with new friendships, and a new love, the past is catching up to her. And this time, she’ll have to face it head on.

 

Better Than ChocolateBetter than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts

The best treat of all…

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations. But now it looks as if they’re about to lose their beloved shop to the bank. How can the town of Icicle Falls possibly cope without ­ the famous Sterling treats?

It won’t be easy for Samantha Sterling to save her company, though… Its fate is in the hands of her arch-enemy, Blake Preston, the bank manager with devastating good looks. Which is enough to make her want to eat the entire shop’s contents in one sitting.

Yet maybe Blake’s about to convince her that (believe it or not) there’s something even better than chocolate.

Welcome to Icicle Falls, the town that will warm your heart.

 

ChocolateChocolate the Consuming Passion by Sandra Boynton

Here is the absolute ideal gift for every true chocolate obsessive, adults, kids, everyone in between and it’s even better than actual chocolate, since this book will last so much longer. And, unlike chocolate, the book is also great for sharing. A New York Times bestseller in its original edition, with over 500,000 copies sold, Chocolate is a timeless illustrated classic, filled with useful facts and vital misinformation. And it has now been thoroughly updated, rewritten, and redrawn by Sandra Boynton with over 200 drawings featuring those beloved and often bewildered Boynton characters. The new research was extensive: Diligent to a fault, Boynton nobly sourced and consumed untold quantities of great chocolate, with no thought for her own personal safety. Discover the many faces of chocolate – milk chocolate, dark chocolate, boxed chocolates, faux chocolate, and the exciting and intense new frontier known as “craft chocolate.” Learn about chocolate’s complex effects on the body, the brain, and the soul. Prepare select simple recipes, such as “Hippo Pot de Mousse,” specifically designed with the impatience of the chocolate-loving cook in mind.There’s even a handy guide to saying “Excuse me, where is the nearest chocolate? ” in eleven languages. Including Klingon. Boldly go.

 

Catch Me A CatchCatch me a Catch by Sally Clements

She had the perfect life – and all she wanted was to escape it. Artisan chocolatier and reluctant matchmaker Annie Devine wants to survive the annual Durna Matchmaking Festival without messing up. She’s useless at relationships, and the whole village know it. They’ve known ever since the day she was left at the altar in her wedding dress. When Jack Miller, charismatic head of Miller Advertising is forced to make an emergency stop on his transatlantic crossing, she mistakes him for a love-lorn bachelor, and sparks fly. Jack’s in Ireland to discover his roots, while Annie’s desperate to escape hers. Annie longs to win the coveted Chocolate Oscar competition, and claim the ultimate prize, her own shop in Dublin. But with the deadline for Jack’s return to New York looming, is she making the right choice?

 

The Chocolatier's SecretThe Chocolatier’s Secret by Helen J Rolfe

Will one mistake ruin everything? 

Andrew Bennett has an idyllic life in Magnolia Creek, Australia. He runs a chocolate business he adores, is married to Gemma, the love of his life, and has a close relationship with his father, Louis. But when Andrew receives a message from his high school sweetheart, it sends his world into a spiral, and the relationships he holds dear will never be the same again.

Molly Ramsey is looking for answers. After her last attempt, she believes the only way to get them this time is to face her past head-on. But to do this, she has to fly to the other side of the world – and she’s afraid of flying. Her search for answers lands her in an emotional tangle, not only with her past but also with a man very much in her present.

Family is everything to Gemma Bennett and she longs to have a house full of kids, but it just isn’t happening. And when Andrew’s past makes an explosive impact on the family, Gemma must decide whether she can accept the truth and open her heart in a way she never thought possible.

 

Still awake?? Here it is, last but not least, one I’m eager to read because it features chocolatiers from Barcelona.

Desire for ChocolateDesire for Chocolate by Care Santos

Three women, three centuries and the same bone-china chocolate pot: Sara, the scion of a dynasty of chocolatiers from Barcelona, who prides herself on maintaining the family tradition; Aurora, the daughter of a nineteenth-century maidservant, for whom chocolate is a forbidden luxury; Mariana, the wife of the most famous seventeenth-century chocolate manufacturer, an official purveyor to the French court and the inventor of a revolutionary chocolate mill. Through her passion for chocolate, Care Santos takes us on a spellbinding journey through its evolution, from the cocoa bean’s first arrival in Europe to the many sophisticated products derived from it today, and shows us how we can understand the great shifts in history through the study of small things. Luscious and addictive, this novel will delight the reader’s senses from start to finish.

 

11 comments

  1. A fascinating post, Jill. I’d love to visit Barcelona and this has made me want to go even more. And what a fabulous selection of chocolate-themed books. I’ll definitely check out Chocolates Simón Coll! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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