Title: The Chocolate Tin
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Published: October 31st 2016
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
The highly anticipated, sensuous new blockbuster by the beloved, bestselling author of The Perfumer’s Secret.
Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.
Matthew Britten-Jones is a man of charm and strong social standing. He impresses Alex and her parents with his wit and intelligence, but would an amicable union be enough for a fulfilling life together?
At the end of the war, Captain Harry Blakeney discovers a dead soldier in a trench in France. In the man’s possession is a secret love note, tucked inside a tin of chocolate that had been sent to the soldiers as a gift from the people back home.
In pursuit of the author of this mysterious message, Harry travels to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where his life becomes inextricably bound with Alexandra and Matthew’s. Only together will they be able to unlock secrets of the past and offer each other the greatest gift for the future.
From the battlefields of northern France to the medieval city of York, this is a heartbreaking tale about a triangle of love in all its forms and a story about the bittersweet taste of life . . . and of chocolate.
I stored this novel away for a few weeks after I had the pleasure of meeting the author of The Chocolate Tin, Fiona McIntosh. My reason for not reading this book straight away was simple; I was saving it for a guaranteed perfect Christmas read. I’m so glad I did, as The Chocolate Tin was a deliciously indulgent and smooth story that combined all the elements I love in a good book. From love at first sight, to the uncertainty of the Great War, the art of chocolate making, a beautiful historical setting and a fiercely independent female protagonist. What more could a reader ask for!
The Chocolate Tin is focussed on the story of the wealthy Alexandra Frobisher, who is the only child of the Frobisher family. The Frobisher’s want nothing more than to see their daughter settle down and marry, after a number of marriage refusals. Alex on the other hand, is a woman living in the wrong time, she aspires to open her own chocolate making factory. When Alex meets Matthew Britten-Jones a wealthy man with a high social status, she agrees to marry him. To deal breaker to this marriage being Matthew’s promise to Alex, to grant her the freedom to pursue her dreams as a chocolate factory owner. While investigating possibilities for her future business interests, Alex finds herself a Rowntree’s chocolate factory. Here, Mathew’s family is in charge of the essential railway service that transports chocolate to their destinations. Working on the shop floor one day to get a feel for the trade, Alex slips a note in one of the chocolate tins bound for the front. This note is eventually found by a man who travels all the way from the war, in search of its author. What follows in The Chocolate Tin, is Alex’s struggle to make it in the chocolate industry, along with her involvement in a love triangle that develops. These events are all due to the fateful note Alex placed in the chocolate tin.
There is no question that Fiona McIntosh is a powerhouse in the Australian commercial fiction circuit and her timely release of The Chocolate Tin during the lucrative Christmas period, is just perfect for fans of her work. The Chocolate Tin is a wonderful piece of fiction that I inhaled over Christmas. I was so glad to save it as my Christmas read of choice, as I was not disappointed.
The strength in The Chocolate Tin lies in McIntosh’s successful formula. She combines love, history, war, all within the appealing frame of chocolate making. As always, McIntosh takes care to ensure her setting is spot on. Her research is meticulous and faultless. I felt completely immersed in the chocolate making capital of York, England, for the length of the novel. McIntosh’s descriptions of the battlefield on the Great War were also well drawn, making the feeling of war all too real for the reader.
The characters in The Chocolate Tin novel deliver of a mixture of strength, as a well as a good dose of reality and each comes with their own set of flaws. Alex, a leading woman of her time, was a memorable protagonist, who I just couldn’t help but cheer on. Matthew, her husband, was a complex character and his entry into the storyline signals a cracker of a secret. This secret was heartbreaking to read at points in the novel and I applaud McIntosh for handling this storyline with poise.
The romance side in The Chocolate Tin comes from the introduction of Harry, a soldier from the front. This is where McIntosh truly shines, McIntosh conveys the deep feelings of love at first sight, as well as the complications resulting from Alex and Harry’s meeting. On the whole, this was the standout feature of The Chocolate Tin for me.
Readers will be more than pleased by Fiona McIntosh’s latest offering. The Chocolate Tin will take you on a journey into the heart and history of the chocolate making business. An unforgettable tale that receives a full five star rating from this happy reader.