Julia's Chocolates is major estrogen-lit. In the tradition of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, the works of Sarah Addison Allen (without the touch of magic), and hinting at Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts, Julia's Chocolates asserts feminine power to the max.
Every woman who attends the delightfully quirky Aunt Lydia's Psychic Nights (Which are usually coupled with an outpouring of love to a part of female anatomy), celebrates the lusty, wonderful and magical connection they have with each other, their domestic spheres and their winsome natures.
From abuse victims to minister's wives cajoled by the restrictive boundaries of the church, this novel revolves around women: finding themselves, tweaking their relationships, grabbing their reigns and forging their paths.
There is a lot of abuse here: from physical to violent and the over-powering nature of it on each woman's life seems to border on the melodramatic. Nonetheless, Lamb presents her material in a visceral, stark and eye-opening manner that only makes the triumphs of her women over the travails rendered by their situations more potent.
I really enjoyed how Julia developed. Her first-person narrative was welcome and her slow and sure trust of her new community unravelled comfortably like a slight, unfurling ball of yarn.
This is heavy on the tragedy; but also heavy on the light.
It is certainly a page-turner and those with a hankering for a happy ending will find plenty abound in this sweet and unique tale. One might argue that in a novel that presents abuse so bluntly and so realistically, the endless happy endings clash in unrealism. However, as readers, we want our novels to be neatly sewn and Lamb caters to this request.
A healthy dose of Chicklit for those who prefer the power of community and realistic romance; rather than heels, Prada, cosmos and cityscapes.