This is a slightly mystical story involving chocolate, relationships, and a bit of romance. The author has a unique writing style. I felt like i really knew the characters as the story unfolded. I recommend this book.
A great read, I really enjoyed it. Character-wise, Reynaud stands for everything I dislike about the Catholic religion and I really hated his character in this story: a true villian, bigot, and zealot. I could never wrap my mind around some of the Catholic ideals and concepts--Lent and abstinence, original sin, and the like. Reynaud likes to take the words of the Bible and warp them to his own twisted means.
Vianne is exactly the opposite of Reynaud and stands for everything I believe in and all that is right with the world; her outlook on life closely mirroring my own--except for the parts about fleeing from place to place to escape The Black Man. She was a good mother and a wonderful woman, and I was happy to see the impact she had on many of the people of Lansquenet, giving them strength and courage, and a new love for life.
The premise of the story, a chocolate boutique opened by Vianne in a strictly Catholic village, allows the characters, both major and minor, to examine their beliefs as the priest Reynaud speaks out against the debauchery of the chocolatier. Joanne Harris, the author, is very good at describing things in the best frame of reference, the chocolates, the flowers of springtime, the images brought to mind while reading this book were both beautiful and mouth-watering. And seeing as how it's just past Halloween, and a recent vacation to Key West from which I just returned last week, I happened to find all kinds of chocolate in the house which we usually don't have. I think this book may have caused me to gain a few pounds because with all the reading about chocolate, goodness knows I had to indulge. Heh, at least all the Halloween chocolate is almost gone now... though I miss the Key West fudge and Lindt chocolates. LOL
Hmmm. I had this book in my "TBR" pile when I read mention in a Christian publication using this book (or the movie) as an example of media making the religious look stupid or evil or otherwise unappealing while glorifying those who ridiculed Christians. Now I felt too guilt to read it! But no book can stay at my house too very long, so I gave it a shot.
Well, certainly the criticism was truthful, in that the village priest is the "man in black" of the piece and the heroine was raised a witch. I hope this does not show a permanent bias on Harris' part, and that other works will balance this out. But I did enjoy the piece. I loved the mother and daughter, and found the descriptions of the chocolates seductive indeed (as I believe another reviewer noted). The sympathetic characters were all the underclass or the downtrodden and, while Harris made them non-Christian in most instances, it is unfortunate to note that many Christians could learn lessons in how to treat others in the actions of our chocolatier.
A tasty story! I liked the movie too but the book is a bit different of course. Harris is so descriptive and I especially love the way she relates the sense of smell in her descriptions. A good and quick read.
This was a fantastic book. I read it several years ago before the movie came out. My husband and I were travelling in Europe, and I read this on the train. It was a wonderful read with the farmlands of France and Belgium as a backdrop. Even named my cat Anouk after the daughter in the story. Far, far better than the film - much deeper and more meaningful characters. Definitely one I will read again.
A very good read! This was my first Joanne Harris book but it won't be my last! I really enjoyed the book and liked it better than the movie. The movie left out a lot of the more controversial plot lines but the movie itself is worth seeing for the French scenery. The book is a good read around Easter time since it takes place during the period of lent. I really liked the descriptions and the characters in the book and I agree with the other reviewer about the characters of Reynaud and Vianne. The book deals a lot with the themes of what it means to be a good person no matter what your religious believes or social status.
Beautiful Vivianne Rocher opens a chocolate shop in the small French town of Lansquenet. The people of this isolated little village view her and her daughter with suspicion, especially when she serves her decadent delicacies on Sundays! Located across from the church, she can see the local priest always watching. She thinks of him as the man in black who has haunted her dreams her since childhood.
Vivianne wears bright colors and identifies closely with anyone who comes into her shop, even the "river people" when they park their houseboats on the banks of the local river. Vivianne is carefree, happy and giving to all she meets. Is she a witch as the priest believes or just a sensitive person who strives to help others? The magic of this delightful read may remain your heart for some time. I really liked Chocolat.
"When beautiful, unmarried Vianne Rocher sweeps into the pinched little French town of Lansquenet on the heels of the carnival and opens a gem of a chocolate shop across the square from the church, she begins to wreak havoc with the town's Lenten vows. Her uncanny ability to perceive her customers' private discontents and alleviate them with just the right confection coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation and happiness, but enrages Pere Reynaud, the local priest. Certain only a witch could stir such sinful indulgence and devise such clever cures, Reynaud pits himself against Vianne and vows to block the chocolate festival she plans for Easter Sunday, and to run her out of town forever. Witch or not (she'll never tell), Vianne soon sparks a dramatic confrontation between those who prefer the cold comforts of the church and those who revel in their newly discovered taste for pleasure."
This is a delightful read. Vianne Rocher's character has the ability to transform people. From her own life's struggles, she shares her encouragement. I found Rocher's pick of character names funny; Rocher-a brand of chocolate for Vianne- the chocolatier, & Muscat -a wine; for the town drunk. Rocher's writing is a great novel, well-written, a little of French gastronomy; imaginary, but believable characters. It will keep you reading to the end...
Vianne and her daughter, Anouk, arrive in the small French village for a new life. The people they meet are deep, rich, and tangible characters. They say small village life is the simple life, but the history, prejudices, and family secrets are anything but simple here. Religion, principle, love, determination, and family butt heads and make beautiful music throughout this touching story. Is Vianne a witch, casting her charms and weaving her soul into this town, or are the townspeople ready to face the truth of who they are and make amends for past wrongs?
Chocolat, by Joanne Harris is an intriguing novel about a delightful and slightly magical person that changes the lives of many people.
This compelling novel is told through the eyes of two characters in a diary-like style. The first point of view is Vienna Rocher's, a single mother who has moved into a small religious town with her daughter, Anouk. In the town she opens a chocolate shop across the street from a church at the beginning of Lent. Vianne is a wonderfully constructed and complete, complex woman. She provides the backbone for the tensions of sustaining dichotomies, forces of complimentary but contrary attributes which provide the balance necessary for their holders. Yin and Yang at its basic best. Harris does magic like this for a number of counterparts every bit as magically as Vianne's hands upon chocolate in her chocolaterie.
The other point of view is from Pere Reynaud, the priest of the town. He sees Vienna as a pagan who has come to the area to corrupt his community with the sinful temptation of her chocolate shop. He staunchly promotes the status quo to Vianne's newcomer with an open mind and differing ways.
Throughout this book Reynaud battles with his insecure faith and temptations, while Vienna fights with her past, for her friends, and for her new business.
Even though this book is from the eyes of only two characters, you learn about the lives of everyone who lives in the town; their secrets, conflicts, and personalities.
There are numerous other balances but the two most striking are those between mothers and children and those between an individual's past and his or her present. In addition to this balancing, the secondary characters are quite enjoyable - I particularly like octogenarian Armande - as are the themes of friendship, what exactly constitutes sanity, and the mortality of us each.
I never say the movie so when I saw this book available, I really wanted to read it. And, I am glad I did. I enjoyed it very much and will now have to watch the movie to see the similarities (hopefully)! I liked the "french" influence in the writing which made it feel like I was there. I took french in high school so it was neat to know some of the verbage!! I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read something "a little different"!