Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

My family and I stumbled upon the movie version of this book a few weeks ago. Once I discovered it was a book, I knew I had to read it. For those who do not know the story, Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk arrive in a small French town during Carnival. The locals do not accept outsiders easily and the resident priest only compounds the prejudice. Inch by inch, Vianne and Anouk work their ways into the hearts of the locals while teaching them a thing or two about acceptance.

Do not expect the warm love story that the movie turned out to be. As with most books, it is quite different from the movie adaptation. Both stories are similar and yet completely unique. Occasionally in the book I felt as though I must have missed a paragraph here and there because the narrative seemed to jump. Aside from the momentary confusion that this caused, I was completely drawn into the story - always wanting to know what would happen next. Vianne is a wonderfully rich character that was made very real with her own insecurities and memories. I immediately disliked the priest - I assume this was intended. In the movie, you can feel a sympathy with the "bad guy" but in the book, I found no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

There is a sequel to this book and I look forward to reading it (after I've worked though this huge pile of library books). Chocolat is a fast, enjoyable read. I warn you, though, you will find yourself searching the internet for chocolate recipes by the end.

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