I must admit I saw the movie before I read the book, but liked the book much more. Joanne Harris knew the romance between Vianne and Roux (respectively played by Juliette Binoche and Johnie Depp in the movie) was not an important factor in this story, only Hollywood's little addy, and undoubtedly the reason for people saying the movie was better.
Harris writes in an entrancing manor which is not only evocative in her descriptions of Vianne's Aztec chocolate recipes, but it leaves an impression of the exotic, appealing, and surreal nature of Vianne Rocher's character. Vianne is the epitome of a wanderer with her little daughter Anouk, but in their wanderings they come across many people who's lives they touch. The persuit of belonging is a predominant theme as well as not being afraid to be different and possess some mystery (it's so much more interesting).
Description of chocolate has never been so vividly mouth-watering as in this book, and with its promotion of indulgence, makes one want to savor its taste long afterwords. No wonder even the priest is forced to live a little (what harm is there in that?)
The witchlike characteristics of Vianne and Anouk (as well as Armande Voizin) not only appall the enemy villagers who rebel against her Paganistic rituals, it makes the reader incredibly curious for more hints of supersticion, fortune-telling, or mind-reading eminent in Vianne. The north-wind's blowing, and allusions to the "black man" also add to this enchanting tale of two wanderers who defy the black man in hopes to find somewhere they can settle in.
A must-read, especially while on vacation, and be sure to bring chocolates with you!!