BITTERSWEET JOURNEY by Enid Futterman

BITTERSWEET JOURNEY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Subtitled ``A Modestly Erotic Novel of Love, Longing, and Chocolate,'' this amateurish novella, playwright Futterman's first, is modest only in length. Futterman's syrupy prose celebrates her obsessive search for delicious chocolate and her hope that ``someday her prince would come.'' The self-dramatizing, first-person narrative gratuitously lingers on the narrator's Jewishness and her commonplace observations on the many cities she visits in her midlife crisis. Charlotte's chocolate hunger begins with the Hershey bars furtively passed from her father, and her sexual association starts with the late-night ecstasy of eating under the covers. She denies herself during her early years in Manhattan, indulging only in homemade fudge. Eventually, her junkie's habit outgrows Greenwich Village fudge and leads her to the fine truffles of Madison Avenue. When she marries (``a wonderful man and a woman who wondered''), Charlotte and her new spouse celebrate with ``chocolate velvet'' at the Four Seasons. Marital breakdown years later inspires a new level of obsession. In Europe, she samples the Sacher tortes of Vienna, the chocolate cakes of Munich, the truffes de jour in Zurich, the creamy Belgian chocolate of Brussels, and the celestial bonbons of Paris. Each sweet episode comes with a sexual analogue--a nameless Viennese lover, a voluptuous German woman, and a 22-year-old busker with whom she shares her sacred chocolate rituals. Her year abroad schools her in the fine points of candy, if not love, and a trip to Hawaii proves equally educational. But its back at the source in Mexico, with its ancient xocolatl, that Charlotte realizes where she belongs--in New York with Nathan, who celebrates their union in Brooklyn (her ``bittersweet home'') with dessert at a local cafe. The random chocolate facts are often obscured by Futterman's treacly prose, and her list of international chocolatiers (complete with fax numbers) brings commercial placement to the world of fiction. Lots of color photographs artily arranged throughout will seriously tempt all chocoholics, and the recipes look inviting.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-87694-1
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997