Chocolat

Chocolat

4.4 91
by Joanne Harris
     
 

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Even before it was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, Joanne Harris' New York Times bestselling novel, Chocolat entranced readers with its mix of hedonism, whimsy, and, of course, chocolate.

In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer

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Overview

Even before it was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, Joanne Harris' New York Times bestselling novel, Chocolat entranced readers with its mix of hedonism, whimsy, and, of course, chocolate.

In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat's every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It's a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.

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Editorial Reviews

Megan Harlan
...[An] irresistible confection....explores the struggle between good and evil...but ultimately celebrates...indulgence.
People Magazine
Michael Jacobs
Joanne Harris may have created the perfect diet book in her debut novel, Chocolat, a bittersweet confection that's light on plot but satisfying....The novel tries to be profound about life and death, but the pleasure comes from the food...delicious enough to satisfy any sweet tooth and spare you the calories of dessert. -- USA Today
Nancy Willard
Magic abounds in Harris' novel....The gods of legend may dine well in their celestial palaes, but the true sorcery of cooking cannot take plalce unless the cook and the guests are mortal. This paradox of the human condition is surely one of the messages of Harris' book. -- The New York Times Book Review
Sophia Watson
This is a truly excellent book, one of the best it has been my pleasure to read in the line of duty for years. Joanne Harris achieves everything a novelist should aim for, with no sense of effort or striving...Harris's achievement is not only in her story, in her insight and humour and the wonderful picture of small-town life in rural France, but also in her writing...In short, this is what we call a rave review.
Literary Review
Kirkus Reviews
A first novel that rather cloyingly describes the transformations that overtake the residents of a small French village when a mysterious stranger and her daughter arrive and open a chocolate shop. The townspeople of Lansquenet live in the present day, but the patterns of their lives were established long before they were born-and change very little from year to year. A hamlet straight out of Flaubert, Lansquenet is filled with busybodies who have nothing better to do with their days than spy on one another, until two new arrivals provide fresh grist for the mill. What inspired Vivianne Rocher to move to Lansquenet with her daughter Anouk and to open a chocolate boutique is never explained, but her effect on the populace is profound and immediate: the grim little town and its sniping inhabitants are transformed through the magic of Vivianne's confections into an almost surreal assembly of sensualists, each somehow discovering in bonbons the key to happiness. Elderly crones find themselves remembering long-forgotten loves; shy young couples work up the nerve to break the ice. Is this all the result of only chocolate? Or is some more sinister force at work? The local priest suspects the worst, and his suspicions are reinforced by his awareness that Vivianne opened her shop on Shrove Tuesday-and thus has been tempting the entire parish from its Lenten austerities for the past six weeks. Now, she has even announced plans for a "Chocolate Festival" to take place on Easter Sunday itself! Horrified, he hatches a plan to foil her festivities, but God does not always side with the just. Who will win the soul of the town? Premise, prose, and pace all march along capably, but they failnevertheless to raise the whole above the debilities of heavy symbolism and excruciatingly precious plot.

From the Publisher
"Accomplished and delectable....Few readers will be able to resist." —New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140282030
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
144,572
Product dimensions:
7.76(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

We came on the wind of the carnival. A warm wind for February, laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausages and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hot plate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters like an idiot antidote to winter. There is a febrile excitement in the crowds that line the narrow main street, necks craning to catch sight of the crêpe-covered char with its trailing ribbons and paper rosettes. Anouk watches, eyes wide, a yellow balloon in one hand and a toy trumpet in the other, from between a shopping basket and a sad brown dog. We have seen carnivals before, she and I; a procession of two hundred and fifty of the decorated chars in Paris last Mardi Gras, a hundred and eighty in New York, two dozen marching bands in Vienna, clowns on stilts, the Grosses Têtes with their lolling papier-mâché heads, drum majorettes with batons spinning and sparkling. But at six the world retains a special luster. A wooden cart, hastily decorated with gilt and crêpe and scenes from fairy tales. A dragon's head on a shield, Rapunzel in a woolen wig, a mermaid with a cellophane tail, a gingerbread house all icing and gilded cardboard, a witch in the doorway, waggling extravagant green fingernails at a group of silent children. ... At six it is possible to perceive subtleties that a year later are already out of reach. Behind the papier-mâché, the icing, the plastic, she can still see the real witch, the real magic. She looks up at me, her eyes, which are the blue-green of Earth seen from a great height, shining.

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