As the brilliant young marketing director of a confectionery business, Matt has an intimate relationship with chocolate. To him, chocolate is not only the world's favourite flavour, it is also an extremely potent marketing concept. It means luxury, sensuousness, sweetness and innocent joy. It is a substance to be adored and worshipped, and exploited at every opportunity. To Matt, chocolate is a way of life. For Sam, chocolate is something far more sinister. She's working on a TV documentary about it, which helps take her mind off her mess of a love life, and she's discovered that the subject is not as sweet as she thought it would be. While Western children cram their faces with the stuff, African children are dying in horrendous conditions to produce it. Sam is soon unwilling to consider chocolate as anything but unpleasant - and since Matt's own company is one of the worst offenders, he is unpleasant by association. When they are locked into a chocolate factory together, sparks are bound to fly. Surrounded on all sides by the cause of their discord, Sam and Matt are united only by a desire to find a way out.
But the doors are locked, the windows have grilles on them, and their repeated attempts at raising an alarm to the outside world fail. As they gradually begin to realise that they are stuck with each other, they are finally forced to take a good look at the real reasons why they find it so difficult to get on.
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(198mm x 129mm x 26mm)
Arrow Books Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
English journalist Lowe turns a politically correct exploration of slavery on West African cocoa plantations into an excruciatingly shallow relationships saga in New York City. Journalist and reporter Samantha Blackwood has just come from the C te d'Ivoire with filmmaker and lover Paul on a mission to expose worker exploitation at cocoa factories. Her task in New York, where she lives and works freelance, is to get the marketing director of a family-owned chocolate company at Rockefeller Center, T&B, to agree to an on-camera interview-although Matt Dyson has no idea that Samantha is working in cahoots with a pesky political action group that's publicly denouncing T&B's shameful factory practices. Incredibly, top executive Dyson, a young workaholic with no time for dating, knows nothing of his own company's doings-exposing some of the story's faulty interior machinery. Second-novelist Lowe (Tunnel Vision, 2001) seems to care deeply about injustice between rich and poor, strong and weak-as we see in his depiction of Sam's previous abusive relationship-yet he lacks the adequate stylistic equipment to elevate character above the sketchy level of, say, an article in a women's magazine. Moreover, the tale is heavily, obviously plotted: Naturally, the antagonistic Sam, the journalist, and smug marketer Matt have to find a rapprochement-which occurs handily when the two are accidentally locked up for the weekend at T&B's factory in Baltimore. Too good to be true-they fall into vats of chocolate and build a bonfire with the help of purloined cognac supplies. Lowe knows a lot about chocolate, but little about New York City-or Boston or Baltimore, for that matter-as shown through vague and imprecise description. Yet what does emerge is an honest journalist's intent to expose the despicable practices of American marketing, and on that level Lowe's effort can be indeed useful. A novel with the best intentions doesn't automatically work as fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Keith Lowe
Keith Lowe was born in 1970. After studying English at Manchester University, he spent two years travelling before starting to work in publishing. He is currently working in editorial for Orion. He lives in north London.