Customer Reviews for

Chocolat

Average Rating 4.5
( 89 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

In one word...'Charming'

The book and film are so alike. The story is so charming. The kind of story that leaves you all fuzzy and warm inside :-D

posted by Anonymous on June 9, 2004

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Chocolat....Delicious, but...

Chocolat is a very well written story, and it paints a clear picture in your mind. The characters and the plot are put together beautifully. It's thought provoking. It's wonderful. It's a great book.
But....
The book is almost always better than the movie. Almost. Th...
Chocolat is a very well written story, and it paints a clear picture in your mind. The characters and the plot are put together beautifully. It's thought provoking. It's wonderful. It's a great book.
But....
The book is almost always better than the movie. Almost. There has never been a time in my life when I have found a movie better than it's book. I think I just found an exception. For example: Roux and Vienne's relationship. In the movie, it was perfect. In the book.....it was a one night stand. Where was the magic? Where was the beauty? Where was the love? Uggh! That really disappointed me. Maybe in the next book, they will redeem themselves, but until then....
Also, in the movie, there's more drama. Not so much that it's ridiculous, but enough to make you reach out to the characters. Like in the boat scene. While watching the movie, I really felt for Vienne, and was genuinely scared for Anouk. It made the characters more real. But in the book, they didn't have as much of that. I'll give Joanne props for Charly and Guillame, but as for everyone else...I don't know. It just didn't have as much as an impact on me as the movie.
But hey, don't let me curve you're thinking. The book beautifully crafted. There was a lot of thought and creativity that went into it. And without it, I wouldn't have an amazing movie to compare it to.

posted by HallelujahLC on August 15, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    Wonderful

    Full of Magic and romance. It is much better than the movie to my suprise. You will fall in love with the characters. And hate the others. A very good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    Everyday Magic

    This tale is beautiful, tantalizing, dare I say magical. All the allusions to folk magic and mysteries weaving themselves through Vianne's worldly, ever-shifting life give her an enigmatic appeal, especially to those familiar with her magical jargon. You feel her character and respond with sympathetic, yearning emotions. She is the utter embodiment of everyday magic and all the worldly knowledge of countries and languages and cultures that I so fervently wish to possess. I recommend reading this book so much I can't express it. Vianne's charm, the priest's hypocrisy and yielding to pleasure, Anouk's bright candor, Armande's vivacious and life-giving personality, Roux's softness concealed with rough suspicion... all of these characters make Chocolat and Lansquenet-sous-Tannes the brilliant things they are and which nothing else could be. I only hope to aspire to be like Vianne Rocher, minus the troubling memories and feelings of having to get away, get away... but it might be wonderful to escape when the wind changes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2003

    Well written

    I really enjoyed reading this book, but when I got to the end I was a little disappointed because I was hoping that Roux would get together with Vianne and it didn't happen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2003

    'Try me, test me, taste me...'

    This is book I found very hard to abandon in between readings! I read it in just two days, so intent on reading was I that it almost became an attatchment of me! I found that the commonplace 'good-versus-evil' theme manifested itself so as to create the character of Reynaud as the perfect candidate for the modern tragic hero - the way Harris has composed the prose so as to have seperate chapters representing the viewpoints of the seperate characters of Vianne and Reynaud gives an insight into Reynaud that in fact makes him more than the almost detestable figure suggested by the narratives of Vianne and other characters in the novel. The way in which Harris has used this alternation of first-person character monologue I found very fresh, surprising and unlike the more common tendancy to use the perspective of just one character. The lexis is rich and as bittersweet as the dark chocolate at the centre of the novel. The characters are well developed although tend towards under-descriptiveness at times, although it could be concluded that this is Harris' intention; to create and continue the air of mystery in the book by deliberately hiding character traits from the reader for as long as possible. The intentional naming of the characters by Harris (Vianne Rocher as in, perhaps, the mistress of all chocolates Ferrero Rocher, Narcisse of the garden-nursery) - a slightly humorous factor which adds a nice touch that allows the reader intimcy with the written narratives. There is also a strong element of anaolgy running all the way through the plot - just as Adam was tempted by Eve and the apple, Vianne symbolises the same earthly, decadent temptations that inevitably become the downfall of Reynaud and the denial and repression his character stands for. Unfortunately, the ending, though fairly satisfying and conclusive, is not of the same standard as the rest of the novel. It seems almost hurried, rushed, and is perhaps a little more open-ended than I myself would have liked. Nevertheless, Harris is unequivicol in her passion for the writing, which bestows a similar emotion in her readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2002

    MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER!

    even though i am a teenager, it doesnt mean i dont know a good book when i see one. i read this in one day the first time i read it. vianne and anouk are irresistable chracters, along with the rest of lasquenet( the small town in france). when vianne has some trouble with the count and( for a while)the townspeople and armande begins to fight even more against her duahgters caroline's wishes for her to go to le mortoir ( as everyone nicknames it) you get yanked into the plot with such ferverence that you know you cannot put the book down for even a moment. and when roux and the gypsies arrive, you know that the story you've read so far, is only the begginging. please, i beg you to read this. it is more of an indulgence then the finest of its namesake, and you will never regret it.you havent lived until you have read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2002

    Yummy

    Excellent description of small town French rural life and the natural suspicion and curiosity of the locals when a stranger and her daughter move in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2001

    Amazingly Written!

    Joanne Harris pulls you into the little town of Lansquenet with her very own hands! I could not put this book down by the time I made it to page 87! Reading more than 100 pages a day I was in awe at how wonderfully written the book was! Vianne Rocher and her daughter, Anouk, move to a small French town by the name of Lansquenet and open a small chocolate shop named La Céleste Praline. The villagers, uncertain of her at first, soon begin to befriend Vianne. When Vianne knows everyone's favorite chocolate Reynaud, the town priest, begins to become suspicious. Soon Vianne has befriended most of the town,which enrages Reynaud. Once Vianne decides to arrange a chocolate festival on Easter Sunday havoc rises in Lansquenet. Outraging Reynaud, he tries to convince the towns people not to go to the festival. Will Reyanud's attempt to ruin the festival be a success? Or will the festival ruin Reynaud? The book is irresistible and I encourage every reader to give it a try!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2001

    More than just a sweet tooth!

    As A French native living in the States for now five years, this book gave me a wonderful taste of home and introduced me to the small town living in France. Being from Paris where everything is available in abundance and where people come from all different horizons, I didn't know how important the role of the Church is. The characters are strong and poignant, the description are colorful and tasty! reading this book gave me a very sweet tooth! Sophie, Chicago, IL

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2001

    The Film Is More Palatable

    Thank God that the Film version of this Inspired and Passionate story took a more compassionate and conciliatory attitude toward the premise of the book and its characters. As an American who has experienced both Roman Catholicism and Protestant Fundamentalism firsthand, I can well understand the frustration and almost neurotic confusion experienced by any individual who has been under the oppressive yoke of legalistic religious dogma, but I also feel that author Joanne Harris' attitude toward such theological shortcomings was excessively vindictive and hateful. In the film, the characters learn from one another, and in so doing contribute to their own and one anothers redemption. In the book, the antagonist 'Cure' (Priest), was unbelievably warped, while protagonist Vianne, (I thought), came across as having her own brand of religious self-righteousness. The book makes some poignant observations, such as in the end there are only just good people and bad people, (the 'sheep' and 'goats' of Christ), and I was particularly intrigued by the backstory of Vianne's mother and her battle with shame, guilt, and the need for atonement from a sin born out of her own desire for love and companionship. So again, I thank God that perhaps author Harris pagan prejudices was tempered by what I am assuming was screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs judaic sensibilities and Swedish director Lasse Halstroms protestant calm.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2001

    Aack!!!

    It's a shame when a bad book like this earns undeserved praise and attention and other, better-written books are virtually ignored. The basic idea of Chocolat (good versus evil) is always interesting, even if a bit overdone, but Harris's execution of that idea leaves more than a little to be desired. Vianne Rocher, a mysterious new arrival in the small southwestern French village of Lansquenet, is far to vague to be 'good,' and Father Reynaud, the village priest, and the author's representation of evil, is really only a tormented soul, one to pity rather than hate. The battle between Vianne and Reynaud is completely lacking in tension and momentum and the story soon becomes nothing more than an extensive exercise in extreme boredom. The other characters are just as poorly developed and actually come off as cliches. Armande, who could have been delightful, under the guidance of a more talented author, was reduced by Harris to a caricature of an elderly, stubborn, persnickety old woman, used to getting her own way. While she could have been lovable, had she said, 'Whee,' one more time, even I would have felt like punching her in the face, eighty-one years old notwithstanding. The character of Josephine was so overly-melodramatic she was nothing more than silly and earned my contempt rather than my pity. Much of the book is vague. The author seems to delight in being coy with us and coyness in the service of plot or characterization is never good. Another thing that I found jarring was the fact that Harris constantly switched from present to past tense with no rhyme or reason. Other, better and more experienced writers, make a choice, so should Harris. It could only serve to improve her prose and she does need to improve it. Harris leads us on a merry goose chase, making us believe there will be a huge, climactic showdown between the Church, as personified by Reynaud, and a pagan Festival of Chocolate, as personified by Vianne. However, all this buildup only leads to one huge letdown, as Reynaud simply caves in and the chocolate festival is barely mentioned. Finally, as a 100% Frenchwoman, myself, with a home in a small French village, I found the scenes of French village life to be 95% inaccurate. I got absolutely no sense of 'Frenchness' from this book at all and found it totally lacking in atmosphere. It is a shame this book made it past an editor, much less to publication. Chocolat will leave a bitter taste in my mouth for the short time I care to remember it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2001

    Better than the Movie

    I loved them both but i think the movie hid the more pagan views. The book openly hints at her being a pagan, in the movie she is not so much so. I really enjoyed both movie and book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2001

    great movie

    I was surprised, lots of substories and just a good movie. I will see it again to get it all. I felt it said a lot about life and the way we are and yet see ourselfs so differently.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2001

    The Best movie of the Year!

    The Chocolate is one of the BEST movies, i ever saw. This movie is very nice. It tells us a story about a woman and her child who come to the new town. They open their own Chocolate bissnes. They try to be friendly, to everyone, but some townpeople don't like tham because of the rumors about them all over the town. Johnny Depp comes and saves them. I loved the end of the movie it was very cute. I am sorry but i will not tell i to you. You better go and see it yourself, and trust me you will love it. This movie brings this magical feeling which makes you happy. The actors in the movie are just amezing like Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp. I think that Johnny Depp played his part very -very good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2001

    Sweet and smooth!

    This is an absolutely gorgeous story of Vianne and her daughter who move toa new town to open a chocolaterie. Not only is the story entertaining, the language and description draws you into the sensual world of the little shop of sinful chocolates and each characters feelings and thoughts. I felt as if I almost knew the characters and the world they live in. I recommmend this to anybody and everybody.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2001

    The writer, the screenwriter, the movie.......

    How generous is the Muse that inspired Joanne Harris in writing her first novel. Screenwriter, Robert Nelson Jacobs, adapted her premier novel into a two-hour motion picture, and it is receiving mostly good reviews. Often times avid readers are sorely disappointed in the results of a movie made from a good book. I have often wondered why a writer would allow a screenwriter to use their work to create a skeleton for a movie that fleshes out with little or no resemblance to the book short of bearing the same name. Chocolat, the book, and Chocolat, the movie, are quite different in several areas, but Jacobs leaves the central idea of Harris¿s story intact. Harris creates a modern version of the medieval holy wars as she pits the Church against those who choose to believe differently than the Church dictates. She sets her story in the small French town of Lansquenet, a town where tolerance is not an option. In fact, the local priest, Curé Reynaud, righteously protects intolerance. Then Vianne Rocher comes to town with Anouk, her daughter, Pantoufle, an imaginary rabbit, and the paraphernalia to open up a chocolate shop. As his duty dictates, Curé Reynaud visits Vianne to invite her to church services. Upon learning that she does not plan to attend church, he leaves with a mission to rid Lansquenet of Vianne, her daughter, and her chocolate. Harris¿s theme is good verses evil¿the Church represents evil. Although Vianne does not claim to be a witch, she has an aura of magic and sorcery that she inherited from her deceased mother, who was a vagabond and a self-appointed witch. Vianne represents good. On the surface, this arrangement of good and evil seems inappropriate; however, Harris uses this motif to expose evils that often hide in the shadows of the Church: piousness, gossip, snobbery, greed, spousal abuse, bigotry, etc. For the movie, Jacobs removes a bit of the sting from the Church by changing the antagonist from the priest to the town¿s mayor. The mayor is Comte de Reynaud, a pious son from generations of aristocratic Lansquenet Reynauds. He tells Vianne that the Reynauds were responsible for removing the powerful Huguenots from Lansquenet and that he¿ll have no trouble ridding the town of her. Comte de Reynaud lords over the townspeople just as doggedly as Curé Reynaud does in Harris¿s book. He writes sermons for the young priest who is too weak to stand up to him. Reynaud uses the sermons as a tool to control and frighten the townspeople. The priest does not condone Reynaud¿s influence or interference; he, therefore, represents the silence of the Church in refusing to expose evil that poses as good. Jacobs changes Harris¿s imaginary rabbit into an imaginary kangaroo, he spices the story line up with a bit of romance, he gives Vianne a temper that never surfaces in Harris¿s book, and he adds a fairytale-like quality. However, even with these changes and a few other minor technicalities, Chocolat, the book, and Chocolat, the movie, are obviously from the same source; and, in fairytale fashion, both have happy endings. I recommend the book and the movie as worthy uses of the time you allot for entertainment. But beware¿they may whet your appetite for some delicious chocolate! I immediately when out and bought a chocolate cookbook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2001

    A DEFTLY TOLD TALE OF LUST, GREED, AND LOVE

    In an accomplished fiction debut, Chocolat, English author Joanne Harris offers an intriguing modern day morality tale laced with a soupcon of sorcery. The combatants in this deliciously different take on the eons old tug-of-war between good and evil are a young woman, the daughter of a self-proclaimed witch, and a platitudinous curate. As she struggles to find her place in the world and he equivocates to protect dusty tradition, they vie for the hearts and loyalties of some 200 French villagers, inhabitants of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, 'no more than a blip on the fast road between Toulouse and Bordeaux.' Ms. Harris displays an original voice in perfect pitch as she depicts the cowed, affection starved townspeople. Her meticulous character imagery is telling: Francis Reynaud, the guilt-ridden parish cure' with his cold eyes and 'the measuring, feline look of one who is uncertain of his territory;' the 81-year-old Armande Voizin 'with a smile that worked her apple-doll face into a million wrinkles;' and the venal wife-beater, Muscat, who struts 'stiff-legged like a dog scenting a fight.' Vianne Rocher and her six-year-old daughter are wanderers. They arrive in Lansquenet on Shrove Tuesday, where their appearance is greeted with veiled curiosity by villagers who 'have learned the art of observation without eye contact.' Battle lines are drawn when Vianne opens La Celeste Praline, a gaily decorated confectioner's shop on the town square, directly across from the austere St. Jerome's church overseen by Pere Reynaud. It is Lent, the priest has decreed abstinence, deprivation. Yet, Vianne's shop is a 'red-and-gold confection,' her window a proliferation of truffles, pralines, Venus's nipples, candied fruits, hazelnut clusters, candied rose petals, all there to tempt Reynaud's parishioners. He sees it as a disgrace, a degradation of the faith, and eventually preaches against Vianne from his pulpit. When a band of gypsies moor their colorful houseboats at the village's small harbor, the prelate asks them to leave. Vianne welcomes them, further infuriating Reynaud. Weakened by his self-imposed Lenten fasts, he denies his hunger and watches her shop with 'loathing and fascination' as he begins plotting to rid Lansquenet of what he believes is her evil influence. One of Vianne's staunchest allies is a kindred spirit, the elderly Armande, the village's oldest inhabitant who delights in reminding Reynaud 'of things best forgotten,' and dares to invite the gypsies to remain as her guests. At times fearful of the consequences, Vianne turns to her mother's cards, seeking an answer in augury. Nonetheless, she stands her ground, even making plans for a 'Grand Festival Du Chocolat' on Easter Sunday. It would be a celebration with games in the square and a riot of sweets in the shop. But Reynaud sees it as an affront, an excess, he would have 'The egg, the hare, still living symbols of the tenacious roots of paganism exposed for what they are.' Wisely compressing her provocative narrative to the days between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Monday, the author uses impeccable pacing in leading to Reynaud's final assault, an effort to destroy the festival and Vianne along with it. A surprising yet fitting denouement caps this deftly told tale of lust, greed and love. Francophiles will be drawn to the evocative descriptions of daily village life, while gourmands revel in the mouth-watering descriptions of chocolate preparation. All will relish the skillful pen of Joanne Harris. Chocolat is to be savored.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2001

    Chocolat is a delicious, creamy-smooth treat!

    Joanne Harris' debut novel of beautiful, unmarried Vianne, new to the French town of Lansquenet, is rich in detail, characters, and story. Her vivid description of Vianne's marvelous sweet shop had me running to the cupboard in search of similar treats! This is a lovely book for a rainy afternoon (with a mug of hot cocoa nearby); overall it is fun and light, although it did have some dark undertones, as well. I was a little disappointed in Harris' ending...I thought the handling of the story throughout lent itself to a more satisfying conclusion. However, I would definitely recommend the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2000

    A must read

    This author has such a way with words. She is able to draw me directly into the lives of her characters. I love the flowery, descriptive way in which she writes. I shall have to read her other books now!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2000

    we learn from the bittersweet

    In our bookclub Chocolat inspired a dessert night. I noted the author's subtle eros and her way of building a relationship between Vianne and the community. A subtle seduction and a genuine love grows and in it's blossoming many changes take place. The obvious use of the metaphor of an overgrown garden tended by the distraught priest to the point of dismal control, is fitting and not overdone.Very gently, without good or bad intentions the flowers continue to grow. The balance that one sees in the two main characters and their labels of good and evil both, is served with a bittersweet taste. I came away with the sense that what is emphasized is that we learn from all things the good and the bad and it is the learning that is to be prized. If one learns there is value. If one does not then that is perhaps the true evil. I loved the gentleness of Vianne toward her daughter's imaginary friend 'Pantoufle'. All children should be so lucky.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2000

    Chocolat makes you drool

    This is a great summer read. My husband purchased this book and I read it when he was done. It is a light easy read and being British gives the reader a real feel for life in Europe. I could smell the Chocolate in every page and wanted to have a cup of her hot coco as I read. Worth reading and can't wait for the movie.

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