Review Chocolat by Joanne Harris, Penguin Books 1999, 306 pages.
“Part fairy tale, laden with high farce and laden with tongue -in-cheek humor drenched with savage wit and bursts of wisdom, suffused with lush detail and finely drawn interesting characters…”
The above is the quote from the back of the book, attributed to the Philadelphia Inquirer. I really am not sure I would call this a fairy tale and I know I certainly wouldn’t call it a high farce. However, it does have some magic in it… :P
“Delectable… Delicious.” – USA Today
Now, I do agree 100% with the USA Today. The descriptions of chocolate goodies alone are worth reading this book!
MOTIVATION for READING: This was one of the books I snapped up when I weeded out non-large print books from the nursing home library. (which, now that I think about it – I will need to check to see if Madeline will want to read this book…)
WHAT it’s ABOUT: It’s about a lady with a young daughter who blows into a small town in France during Mardi Gras and decides to set up a chocolate shop. By Easter, she has made friends with many of the locals but has made enemies of a few as well. One of these enemies is the local parish priest. We get half the story from his perspective; the other half from the chocolate lady.
WHAT’s GOOD: The descriptions, the flow of the story. I enjoyed the switch of perspective to get the sense of how the same events can be interpreted so very differently.
WHAT’s NOT so GOOD: ***** SPOILERS***** I sensed a few unfinished minor (maybe not minor?) story lines that never get wrapped up. On the other hand, it’s just these kinds of questions the pop up in my head that demand I talk about and discuss this! I mean, I get that we have to figure out that the priest has a past and as a boy caught his mother and the priest then in a compromising position, shall we say. And that he set fire to the gypsy’s boats, again – when he was a kid. But I felt that was too loosely hinted or not pulled together ? or something. Too many holes and unanswered whys and hows on that backstory stuff.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m glad that I saw the movie so very long ago. It’s good to have only the vague recollection – and I thought the book to movie adaptation was very true to the plot and and certainly, the characters. I did have Juliette Binoche in my head as Vianne but the Johnny Depp vision didn’t impose on the Roux character – which is fine. What I didn’t expect was the negative criticism of the Catholic faith. Did I read too much into this part? Anyway, this book did have more philosophy than I expected.
For a terrific review that captures my thoughts even better than I could express myself, visit the Bookfool’s review HERE.