Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Vianne Rocher and her 6 year old daughter Anouk blow into a small French town on Carnival day. They open a chocolate shop, located across the way from the church, during the Lent season. As an outsider that beats to her own drum, many of the town’s citizens (including the local Priest) are against her and refuse to shop in her chocolaterie. 

I’ve watched the film adaptation plenty of times. It’s one of my favorites. Even though I haven’t watched it in a long while because it’s tainted by Johnny Depp. But I digress. I didn’t know the film was based on a book (shows how much I pay attention to what I watch) until I saw a post here in the blogosphere. Then I found a copy at the used bookstore and I had to read it. 

I went in with high expectations and I am not disappointed. I loved this book. It’s magical, and atmospheric. The writing is lush and really transports you to this tiny French hamlet. 

The story is told through two viewpoints: Vianne’s and Father Reynaud’s. We learn about Vianne’s history, how she and her mother were wanderers for most of her life. Moving through different cities in different countries. And we get more insight into her “magical” abilities. Through Reynaud, we see his unraveling. His obsession with getting rid of Vianne. How her presence in the town appalls him. We also see how and why he grew up to be the kind of person he is. It was all very interesting. 

My favorite parts have to be the food ones. Vianne has a knack for creating mouth-watering chocolates and cuisine. She knows everyone’s favorite chocolate and always has them ready for the customer. There’s a touch of whimsy around her. She and Anouk follow the wind, wherever it may take them. But she really wants to set down roots somewhere. 

There are broader themes in the book, primarily dealing with religion. The book basically begins with Lent and ends on Easter Sunday. That’s a whole religious time frame. But there are other themes as well. It’s a really fascinating book. Absolutely loved it. 

And apparently there are two more books! Why did I not know this before?!

Me right now