Vianne Rocher causes a stir when she arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolaterie opposite the church at the beginning of Lent. Father Reynaud sees her venture as a corrupting influence on his parish, and the two become enemies. As Reynaud rallies the villagers against Vianne, the inhabitants of Lansquenet are torn between loyalty to the church and the forbidden pleasure of chocolate.
I watched the film version of Chocolat a few years ago and it’s quite different from the book.
Chocolat is mostly narrated by Vianne, and occasionally Reynaud narrates in alternating chapters. I like the opposing viewpoints from these two narrators as we learn more about their characters and their thoughts on each other. It provides a different perspective. Also, Vianne can’t be everywhere at once, so Reynaud narrates some first-hand experiences.
Joanne Harris has a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. It’s amusing that Reynaud gets so worked up over a chocolate boutique! I have to admit I like Reynaud’s character, even though I disagreed with his stern views. Vianne resembles Mary Poppins in the sense that she travels with the changing wind. There’s also something magical about her.
This novel is about tolerance and love. It’s also about facing your fears. I wasn’t too keen on the witchy elements as it made the events seem less plausible. Overall though, Chocolat is an enjoyable read.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris is as enticing as one of Vianne’s chocolates. This book is sensuous and delightful. I am looking forward to reading the next books in this series.
My rating: ★★★★☆