November 30, 2007

Chocolat : A Review

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Vianne Rocher arrives in the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes on the first day of Lent in Joanne Harris's novel Chocolat. As the title suggests, chocolate is Vianne's business, or more appropriately, magic. In a matter of days, with the help of her daughter Anouk, she transforms an abandoned bakery into the decadent La Celeste Praline chocolate shop. Vianne watches her potential customers on their way to church, right next door, and slowly entices them into her shop and away from their Lenten fast.

Watching her is the priest Francis Reynaud. He sees Vianne as an usurper of the church, a pagan, and probably a witch. Where Reyaund belittles the problems of his flock, Vianne listens with an open heart. In a short time, Vianne wins over the people with her warmth while Reyaund never really fit in to begin. He disapproves of even the simple pleasure of good chocolate. When Vianne plans a chocolate festival on Easter Sunday, Reynaud views it as a battle for the souls of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes.

Chocolat wasn't a bad little book. The prose was lovely and the thought of all that chocolate...slurp...sorry, drooling. However, it was a little over the top. Reyaund was just so evil, it was almost silly. He is a caricature: Vianne's Black Man brought to life. I guess I should keep in mind that this is a modern fairy tale with Vianne as the Good Witch and that every fairy tale needs a dastardly villain.

Vianne herself was the least interesting character for me. She's nice, she makes chocolate, she had a hard childhood. Josephine, Armande, Guillaume, Roux, although secondary characters were lively, complex characters with odd quirks that made them fun to read about.

Having two narrators, Vianne and Reynaud, was a nice touch. A fun diversion, I did enjoy this book enough to give it...

3.5/5

Also Reviewed By: Naida The Bookworm

7 comments :

  1. I didn't know this book was a book until I saw your review. I've only seen the Johnny Depp movie version. I'm definitely going to add this to my list of books to buy.

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  2. Please consider joining my Japanese Literature Challenge. The details came be found at:

    http://dolcebellezza.blogspot.com/2007/11/youre-invited.html

    I'd love to talk more books with you!

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  3. Yeah...I haven't read the book either. But the movie was really good. I mean, Johnny Depp was looking really hot!

    I figure I'll read the book one day!

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  4. I really enjoy Joanne Harris' novels. Have you read Five Quarters of the Orange? It is my favorite of her titles.

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  5. I'm hoping to read the sequel when it is out in paperback. It's interesting how different the book is to the film (which I also really liked).

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  6. This is my first Harris book. I wouldn't mind reading more. I hear she writes about food quite often.

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  7. It sounds like the book is very different from the movie. It is sitting on my bookshelves but I haven't read it yet. I loved the characer Vianne in the movie (and of course, Johnny Depp's char. was nice too) :)

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