Simone LaFray and the Chocolatiers’ Ball by S.P. O’Farrell
Simone LaFray is an extraordinary 12 year old. At this tender age, she has been working as a secret agent for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her mother is also an agent, and Simone inherited the keen observation and intelligence to become a good spy.
Adding to this amazing job, Simone’s father runs LaFray’s Patisserie, a celebrated sweet shop in Paris. Completing this family are younger sister Mia and bulldog Gigi.
Simone’s life is thrown a surprise when intelligence arrives that a famous thief is coming to Paris and may try to steal a painting from a museum. Agents from the Ministry are on the case, and Simone is asked to join in the effort to stop the thief. I won’t tell more about the plot, as I don’t want to give any spoilers.
Reading this book made me want to visit Paris and eat chocolate. Actually, the book provides an imaginative visit to Paris through the eyes of Simone LaFray, our narrator. Because of Simone, we get to see such wonderful places as the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, and the Grand Palais.
And then there’s LaFray’s Patisserie. Famous for its confections, helmed by LaFrays for several generations. Simone’s father is now the chef, and he’s a whirlwind in the kitchen. O’Farrell delights us readers with the sights and smells of the shop so well that you can easily envision yourself in the kitchen, reaching out for a treat to enjoy.
This book is a treat to enjoy. As we follow Simone’s adventures, we learn of her thought process for which move to make next. We learn of her tender love for her family, her desire to help them, her wish to not stand out in a crowd (such as her sister Mia likes to do). She’s a capable spy, yet she is open to lean on more experienced agents for their wisdom.
Simone is a delightful character, and I had fun reading her adventures.