Book review – Men, Money and Chocolate by Menna Van Praag

16 Jun

Maya spends her days dreaming of a perfect life, a life filled with love, success and pleasure. She tries to find fulfilment in the pursuit of men and money, and when this doesn’t work she looks for comfort in chocolate. But this only leaves her feeling empty and lost. Then Maya meets a mysterious, magical stranger and is set on a spiritual journey to discover what she’s been missing all this time…

I was offered this book for review because the sequel is coming out this month and as soon as I read the synopsis I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I looked it up on Amazon and it had thirty four five star reviews so I agreed to start at the beginning of Maya’s story and I’m very glad I did. Men, Money and Chocolate is hard to categorise. It’s part chick lit, part modern fairytale, with elements of philosophy, fable and spirituality that really make it stand out as different from any of the books that I’ve read recently.

A short book at just over two hundred pages, this was a quick read but certainly made an impact. Maya is in her thirties and runs a cafe left to her by her mum but as soon as we meet her we learn that she isn’t really happy; she doesn’t particularly enjoy her work, the man she fancies barely knows she exists and she’s overweight from drowning her sorrows in sweet treats all of which are combining to make her more unhappy and her life seems to have become a vicious circle. There’s a lot here for readers to identify with as I’m sure the majority of us have had issues with either relationships, careers or weight at some point (I know I have!) and Menna van Praag has certainly tapped into some key topics.

The book follows Maya as she tries to work out how to put things right and make herself happy. Maya meets Rose, a wise old lady who visits the cafe one day and sees straight to the heart of Maya’s problems. Rose becomes a sort of mentor/fairy-godmother to Maya, prompting her to ask herself some difficult questions about her life and what will really make her happy. I don’t want to give away the plot of the book so suffice to say Maya goes on to meet several other characters that make a big impact on her and she takes some truly life changing decisions and actions. The story is told in the third person and I really liked Menna’s tone and style of storytelling. The writing treads just the right line between reflection and action and although Maya makes some big physical changes during the course of the novel, there is just as much to be learned from this book about change from within.

What I liked most about this book was that it didn’t come across as a preachy self-help manual, nor was it a Bridget Jones style diary of disaster but it managed to combine an interesting fictional story with genuine good advice. Maya doesn’t always get it right and I loved that about her and I thought she was a genuinely believable and likeable character. Men, Money and Chocolate really made me think and made me smile. It’s a life affirming positive read and a lovely story. I moved straight on to finish the second part of Maya’s story; Happier Than She’s Ever Been which I’ll be reviewing next week.

4/5

I’d like to thank Jessica at Hay House Publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

You can find out more about Menna and her books at: http://www.mennavanpraag.com/

3 Responses to “Book review – Men, Money and Chocolate by Menna Van Praag”

  1. Literary Marie 17th June 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Really great review! I like when characters are realistic. Looking forward to your review of the sequel.

  2. Agustin 16th July 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Well, said: kick***! Those look fantastic!

  3. Jose - chocolate 2nd January 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I should prefer “Happier Than She’s Ever Been” the sequel. Is a heart-touching fable that teaches you how to create a beautiful relationship

    Very nice

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