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...
Also Reviewed By: Naida The Bookworm