When I was a little girl grocery shopping with my mom, I insisted on grabbing a new Little Golden Book before she steered the cart toward the check-out. And I still find myself buying books this way—picking up new paperbacks from Walmart or Walgreens or my local Price Cutter when I run in for a gallon of milk or (as has been the case these past few months) house paint…While the selection might not be so widespread as the selections in bookstores, somehow, I still really like to come to books this way—to buy my books in non-book locals. THE BLUE BISTRO was a recent Walmart purchase. (And a book I devoured on the elliptical.)
What I really love about this book is Hilderbrand’s ability to write about a physical location in such a way that the location itself becomes a main character…as I made my way through the chapters, I became so invested in the restaurant—I swear, I could reach out and touch the ambiance—that I found myself, in-between bouts of reading, wondering about the fate of the bistro in the same way I usually wonder about characters I become invested in.
I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had that experience as a reader—being so wrapped up in a book’s setting. I honestly felt that the true romance of the novel—the sparkle, the tingle—existed in that restaurant, just as much as I felt it existed between Thatcher and Adrienne. And when the restaurant was dismantled, I felt that was the real death in the book—as a reader, I mourned for the restaurant just as much as I mourned for its owner, Fiona.
Hildebrand reminds us that location is more than just a two-dimensional backdrop for our characters. Location, when handled right, becomes a breathing entity—a driving force for the plots of our novels.