Chocolat Paperback – Mar 16 2000
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Vianne Rocher and her 6-year-old daughter, Anouk, arrive in the small village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes--"a blip on the fast road between Toulouse and Bourdeaux"--in February, during the carnival. Three days later, Vianne opens a luxuriant chocolate shop crammed with the most tempting of confections and offering a mouth-watering variety of hot chocolate drinks. It's Lent, the shop is opposite the church and open on Sundays, and Francis Reynaud, the austere parish priest, is livid.
One by one the locals succumb to Vianne's concoctions. Joanne Harris weaves their secrets and troubles, their loves and desires, into her third novel, with the lightest touch. There's sad, polite Guillame and his dying dog; thieving, beaten-up Joséphine Muscat; schoolchildren who declare it "hypercool" when Vianne says they can help eat the window display--a gingerbread house complete with witch. And there's Armande, still vigorous in her 80s, who can see Anouk's "imaginary" rabbit, Pantoufle, and recognizes Vianne for who she really is. However, certain villagers--including Armande's snobby daughter and Joséphine's violent husband--side with Reynaud. So when Vianne announces a Grand Festival of Chocolate commencing Easter Sunday, it's all-out war: war between church and chocolate, between good and evil, between love and dogma.
Reminiscent of Herman Hesse's short story "Augustus," Chocolat is an utterly delicious novel, coated in the gentlest of magic, which proves--indisputably and without preaching--that soft centers are best. --Lisa Gee, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The battle lines between church and chocolate are drawn by this British (and part French) author in her appealing debut about a bewitching confectioner who settles in a sleepy French village and arouses the appetites of the pleasure-starved parishioners. Young widow Vianne Roche's mouthwatering bonbons, steaming mugs of liqueur-laced cocoa and flaky cream-filled patisserie don't earn her a warm welcome from the stern prelate of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. In Francis Reynaud's zeal to enforce strict Lenten vows of self-denial, he regards his sybaritic neighbor with suspicion and disdain. Undaunted, Vianne garners support from the town's eccentrics, chiefly Armande Voizin, the oldest living resident, a self-professed sorceress who senses in Vianne a kindred spirit. A fun-loving band of river gypsies arrives, and a colorful pageant unfurls. The novel's diary form?counting down the days of Lent until Easter?is suspenseful, and Harris takes her time unreeling the skein of evil that will prove to be Reynaud's undoing. As a witch's daughter who inherited her mother's profound distrust of the clergy, Vianne never quite comes to life, but her child, Anouk, is an adorable sprite, a spunky six-year-old already wise to the ways of an often inhospitable world. Gourmand Harris's tale of sin and guilt embodies a fond familiarity with things French that will doubtless prove irresistible to many readers. Rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Canada, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Brazil, Israel, Norway, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Joanne Harris is a brilliant story teller with such admiration for the senses that she pulls her readers into a land of sensory overload where you want to reside forever. The book is different than the movie (isn't this always the case?) but just as entertaining. The delicate prose and romantic verse keep you interested until the very end and then for days and days afterwards. I dare you to read this tale and not find yourself sipping wine and cocoa while being tempted by all the chocolate. France will be calling your name!
With its tantalizing descriptions, this book will have readers dreaming of the finest chocolates and confections. The language can be at times self-conscious and overblown, but the overall effect is mesmerizing, thanks to Harris's visual style and attention to detail. The biggest flaw of this otherwise skilled first novel is the unsatisfying ending and the one-dimensional way Vianne connects emotionally with the gypsies. These forced elements can be forgiven, however, given the moving lyricism of the rest.
CHOCOLAT is a beautiful but flawed work that offers much more than the average novel. If you haven't already read this and are a fan of magic realism, you should pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
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!!
Most recent customer reviews
Bought this book after seeing the excellent movie based on the book. The movie was better in my opinion. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Grammomster
I was looking for a new book to read, and spotted this on my mother's shelf. Since I have wanted to see the movie based on this book for a long time, I decided to give it a go. Read morePublished on June 2 2012 by Erica
Admittedly, this story wasn't just published, but it simply is the same old, old theme: church and priest = bad guys, persons preaching self-indulgence = good guys. Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2008 by Babbara
The novel Chocolat written by Joanne Harris does french history proud as it does a great job of portraying the original traditional values and cultures that post war France... Read morePublished on June 4 2007 by Sammy van Velzen
I thought the book Chocolat was great and I enjoyed reading it. It was definitely a change of pace from all other books I have read in school which made it that much more... Read morePublished on May 14 2004 by Jenny Godwin
This was an enchanting tale of a mother daughter duo that was able to come into a quaint French town and transform many of the village people. Read morePublished on May 4 2004 by Katrina