The Girl with No Shadow Paperback – Apr 29 2008
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Pub Date: 2008-04-29 Pages: 704 Language: English Publisher: HarperCollins US Since she was a little girl. the wind has dictated every move Vianne Rocher has made. buffeting her from the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes to the crowded streets of Paris. Cloaked in a new identity. that of widow Yanne Charbonneau. she opens a chocolaterie on a small Montmartre street. determined to still the wind at last and keep her daughters. Anouk and baby Rosette. safe. Her new home above the chocolate shop offers calm and quiet; no red sachets by the door;.. no sparks of magic fill the air Conformity brings with it anonymity-and peace There is even Thierry. the stolid businessman who wants to care for Yanne and the children . On the cusp of adolescence. an increasingly rebellious Anouk does not understand. But soon the weathervane turns... and into their lives blows the charm...
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Top Customer Reviews
The questionable Zozie could pass for the old Vianne with her bohemian attitude, bon-bon colored costumes and her uncanny ability to tantalize the Parisian shoppe's clientele with their "favorite" confection. Impressed with the latent supernatural talent possessed but untried by now preteen Anouk, Zozie intends to manipulate Vianne's lapse into conformity to her own advantage by mimicking Vianne's own gentle yet paranormal methods of persuasion.Read more ›
This book has to be read very carefully. There are no fillers. The sentences carry meaning and the language is beautiful. Details are important.
The character of Zozie is not just the negative side of Vianne. The energy, the attraction, the seduction of the chocolate store, was originally carried forward by Vianne, but since she came to Paris, she lost it all. This is a warning. Abandoned posts are going to be occupied. Don't let us abandon the posts!
How well the authoress knows life! The problems of teenage children at school are obviously everywhere the same. The cliques, which engage in excluding others; is it the desire for exclusiveness, or a tool of torture? Because, as Harris writes-children are knives. They don't mean to do so, but they cut.
I have only two objections to this marvelous book.
1. The phantasmagoria towards the end is, somehow, in a different spirit in comparison with the rest of the book. It is too much, whereas the whole book was gearing up for balance.
2.The real mother of Vianne appears suddenly, as if the author wanted to have Vianne's story finished and wrapped up. We, certainly, have known about her before, and that Vianne was abducted, but there was only one mention of this in the previous book, and of some newspaper cuttings in the present book. Yet, there are endless mentions of the woman who brought Vianne up, her instructions, her customs.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although it's a sequel to Chocolat, The Girl With No Shadow is not Chocolat II. It is a darker, grittier story of mothers and daughters, love and loss. Although readers may expect the same Disneyesque charm of the first novel, this contemporary fairy-tale is more in the vein of the Brothers Grimm. My only quibble is I missed the zest of earlier Vianne during most of the story. The villain was a much more compelling creation. Nevertheless, fans who want to follow the characters from Chocolat will enjoy this book.
Joanne Harris has a true knack for narrating the yin and yang in life. She did an amazing job in Chocolat and continues to do so in Lollipop Shoes. Her characters are wonderfully developed and very realistic. I do recommend reading Chocolat first if you want the background of the main characters going into this novel. My interest was held from the first page to the last.
When Ms. Harris uses food in the titles of her books, you are in for a feast. Bon appetit!
The novel is told from the (confusing) viewpoint of three different characters: Vianne, Anouk, and Zozie de l'Alba in a narrow timeframe ranging from October 31 to December 24. At times, the three are commenting on events happening on the same day. Vianne's past literally comes back to haunt her in the form of the mysterious Zozie, and the young Anouk is sliding into perilous teenage rebellion, hanging out in cemeteries and engaging in forbidden acts of magic.
The cast of characters is too large to be explored in detail, and even the appearance of an old friend from the original novel is lost in the fray. Having three narrators fails to solidify the action, and it took me a few chapters to clue in that different characters were narrating (the images at the top of the chapters are different for each character). Flashbacks were to actions not covered in the original novel, and the frequent time travel left me confused at the all-too-important omissions of pivotal earlier events such as the birth of Vianne's second child, Rosette, who at four is non-verbal and quite possibly autistic.
Although the descriptions of chocolates are mouthwatering, too often the action felt staged, stale, and not in the magical spirit of the original novel Chocolat. Make no mistake: this is no sweet Chocolat Part Deux; it's dark, gritty, and haunting, wrapped in dark secrets, past injustices, and the desire for revenge that consumes several characters at various points. It's definitely not a feel-good book, although if you enjoyed Vianne's character, you may enjoy The Girl With No Shadow. It's most definitely a reinvention of classic fairy tales for grown-ups.
If you also enjoyed Gentlemen and Players then you'll find this newest novel doubly delightful.
No, the novel is not Disneyesque; but then neither was "Chocolat" really.
More like the Talented Mr.Ripley takes a trip to the Twilight Zone and meets Harry Potter in Paris. :-)
What I found interesting was how the story was told from the perspective of three different characters, leaving you to guess for a few seconds at the beginning of each chapter as to who was now speaking.
The reader is also left tantalizingly guessing, even at the end, at just exactly how effective any of the "magic" really was, or was it all simply scheming and social engineering and the occasional fortutitous or not happenstance.
Joanne Harris has over the years honed and perfected her skills as a writer by producing an unbroken series of novels with an intriguing storyline and an engaging cast of characters. "The Girl with No Shadow" demonstrates convincingly that Ms. Harris continues to get better and better at her craft.
Yanne continues her vocation as a maker of exquisite chocolates. It's a drab life she leads, but at least she and her daughters are safe. Her shop barely ekes out a living. If it weren't for Thierry, her staid landlord, who has provided living quarters, she wouldn't be able to care for her family.
Thierry asks Yanne to marry him and although she's not in love with him, a solid family life is tempting. But she can't bring herself to agree to marriage. Undaunted, he continues with plans to renovate one of his houses for them.
Along comes Zozie de l'Alba and we know from her first words that she is up to no good. Beautiful and charming, Zozie is an attraction to impressionable Anouk. Although for some time Anouk has realized she's different from other kids, her exposure to Zozie helps her to define her special talent. She, too, is a witch.
Zozie manages to become part of the family, turns the chocolate shop into a bright, sunny place that draws customers in droves.
Just when Yanne least expects it, Roux appears from her past. Although he doesn't know it, he is Rosette's father. Even after four years, he stirs up feelings Yanne has tried unsuccessfully to bury.
Zozie's true colors emerge. Pending danger and ruin become obvious. What tactic will she use this time to alter the lives of those who have trusted her?
If you're a chocolate lover, you'll enjoy the many descriptions of making exotic confections. Joanne Harris uses an interesting technique to spin her tale in that the story is told in three voices, all in first person. It was a bit confusing at first, but I soon noticed each of the three had a unique symbol at the beginning of a chapter.
Though my reading pleasure is normally stories with realistic plots, Harris spins an intriguing yarn. The Girl with No Shadow is a fairy tale for grown-ups. The author's knowledge of chocolate is impressive and the Paris setting extraordinary. Harris's lyrical writing style is a joy and keeps the reader engaged.