The Washington Post
The Girl with No Shadowby Joanne Harris
The wind has always dictated Vianne Rocher's every move, buffeting her from the French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes to the crowded streets of Paris. Cloaked in a new identity, that of widow Yanne Charbonneau, she opens a chocolaterie on a small Montmartre street, determined to still the wind at last and keep her daughters, Anouk and baby Rosette, safe. But the… See more details below
The wind has always dictated Vianne Rocher's every move, buffeting her from the French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes to the crowded streets of Paris. Cloaked in a new identity, that of widow Yanne Charbonneau, she opens a chocolaterie on a small Montmartre street, determined to still the wind at last and keep her daughters, Anouk and baby Rosette, safe. But the weather vane soon turns, and Zozie de l'Alba blows into their lives. Charming and enigmatic, Zozie provides the brightness that Yanne's life needs—as her vivacity and bold lollipop shoes dazzle rebellious and impressionable preadolescent Anouk. But beneath their new friend's benevolent façade lies a ruthless treachery—for devious, seductive Zozie has plans that will shake their world to pieces.
The Washington Post
Harris revisits characters from 1999's bestselling Chocolatin this equally delectable modern fairy tale. More than four years have passed since Vianne Rocher pitted her enchanted chocolate confections against the local clergy's interpretation of Lent in smalltown France; since then, Vianne has renounced magic, changed her name to Yanne Charbonneau and moved with her two daughters to Paris's Montmartre district. There, Yanne embraces conformity and safety, much to the dismay of her increasingly troubled older daughter, Anouk. When Anouk becomes entranced with Zozie de l'Alba, an exotic itinerant who happens upon a job at the new shop, and the relationship grows increasingly sinister, Yanne must call up all of Vianne's powers, culinary and mystical, to save her family. Harris again structures the narrative (told in alternate chapters by Zozie, Yanne and Anouk) around a liturgical season (in this case Advent). Harris gives fans much to savor in this multilayered novel, from the descriptions (including Yanne's mouthwatering chocolate confections, Zozie's whimsical footwear and Anouk's artistic efforts) to the novel's classic, enduring theme of good vs. evil-and the difficulty of telling the difference. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In this sequel to Harris's 1977 New York Times best-selling novel Chocolat (which also found life as a popular film featuring Johnny Depp), Anouk and her mother, Vianne, return to Montmartre, to live above their Parisian chocolate shop. Vianne has given up magic and changed her name to Yanne; still a single mom, she now also has a four-year-old daughter named Rosette, who does not speak. Roux, Rosette's father, has had no contact with Yanne since she resettled in Paris. This modern-day tale involves identity theft, preadolescent anxiety, a special-needs child, and a marriage of convenience, as well as lots of chocolate. Yanne, who has fallen on hard times, dresses in dark colors, suppressing her talent for magic and selling chocolates from her Montmartre storefront. Eleven-year-old Anouk, now called Annie, has started secondary school, where her schoolmates torment and bully her for being different and wearing the wrong clothes. Zozie, a charming, gifted young woman who inexplicably shows up one day and volunteers to help in Yanne's store, has worked her way into every aspect of Yanne's and her daughters' lives and generally makes herself indispensable. The characters are well drawn, and the apprehension among them leads to a climactic ending on Christmas Eve. Performed by Susanna Burney, this novel includes drama, romance, comedy, the supernatural, and adventure. Recommended. [Also available as downloadable audio from Audible.com.-Ed.]
Seeking stability for her two children, Vianne Rocher has suppressed her magical powers since last seen in the much-acclaimed Chocolat. With Anouk now a preteen and Rosette a special-needs preschooler, she has her hands full as she manages-What else?-a chocolaterie in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris. But the Halloween winds blow in Zozie, an identity-robbing witch disguised as a charismatic helpmate. Zozie ingratiates herself into this little family, stealthily planning her next diabolical theft, scheduled for Christmas Eve. As autumn flows by, the two women transform the drab shop's confections into something so delectable the pages practically ooze chocolate. Then Roux shows up-after four years-troubled by the changes in his former lover's lifestyle and by this newcomer. His appearance revitalizes Vianne and forces her to address what is happening in her household and to reclaim her own unique magic touch. The race against time gives the story intensity, and the three female characters come alive with Harris's trademark shifting narrations. Although it's a bit darker than Chocolat, readers will drink up this pleasurable tale of love. Highly recommended for all popular fiction collections. Expect high demand. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/07.]
Teresa L. Jacobsen
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Read an Excerpt
The Girl with No Shadow
Wednesday, 31 October
Día de los Muertos
It is a relatively little-known fact that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead. People forget to stop the mail—those grieving widows and prospective heirs—and so magazine subscriptions remain uncanceled; distant friends unnotified; library fines unpaid. That's twenty million circulars, bank statements, credit cards, love letters, junk mail, greetings, gossip and bills dropping daily onto doormats or parquet floors, thrust casually through railings, wedged into letter boxes, accumulating in stairwells, left unwanted on porches and steps, never to reach their addressee. The dead don't care. More importantly, neither do the living. The living just follow their petty concerns, quite unaware that very close by, a miracle is taking place. The dead are coming back to life.
It doesn't take much to raise the dead. A couple of bills; a name; a postcode; nothing that can't be found in any old domestic garbage bag, torn apart (perhaps by foxes) and left on the doorstep like a gift. You can learn a lot from abandoned mail: names, bank details, passwords, e-mail addresses, security codes. With the right combination of personal details you can open up a bank account; hire a car; even apply for a new passport. The dead don't need such things anymore. A gift, as I said, just waiting for collection.
Sometimes Fate even delivers in person, and it always pays to be alert. Carpe diem, and devil the hindmost. Which is why I always read the obituaries, sometimes managing to acquire the identity evenbefore the funeral has taken place. And which is why, when I saw the sign, and beneath it the postbox with its packet of letters, I accepted the gift with a gracious smile.
Of course, it wasn't my postbox. The postal service here is better than most, and letters are rarely misdelivered. It's one more reason I prefer Paris; that and the food, the wine, the theaters, the shops, and the virtually unlimited opportunities. But Paris costs—the overheads are extraordinary—and besides, I'd been itching for some time to reinvent myself again. I'd been playing it safe for nearly two months, teaching in a lycée in the eleventh arrondissement, but in the wake of the recent troubles there I'd decided at last to make a clean break (taking with me twenty-five thousand euros' worth of departmental funds, to be delivered into an account opened in the name of an ex-colleague and to be removed discreetly, over a couple of weeks), and had a look at apartments to rent.
First, I tried the Left Bank. The properties there were out of my league; but the girl from the agency didn't know that. So, with an English accent and going by the name of Emma Windsor, with my Mulberry handbag tucked negligently into the crook of my arm and the delicious whisper of Prada around my silk-stockinged calves, I was able to spend a pleasant morning window-shopping.
I'd asked to view only empty properties. There were several along the Left Bank: deep-roomed apartments overlooking the river; mansion flats with roof gardens; penthouses with parquet floors.
With some regret, I rejected them all, though I couldn't resist picking up a couple of useful items on the way. A magazine, stillin its wrapper, containing the customer number of its intended recipient; several circulars; and at one place, gold: a banker's card in the name of Amélie Deauxville, which needs nothing but a phone call for me to activate.
I left the girl my mobile number. The phone account belongs to Noëlle Marcelin, whose identity I acquired some months ago. Her payments are quite up-to-date—the poor woman died last year, aged ninety-four—but it means that anyone tracing my calls will have some difficulty finding me. My Internet account, too, is in her name and remains fully paid up. Noëlle is too precious for me to lose. But she will never be my main identity. For a start, I don't want to be ninety-four. And I'm tired of getting all those advertisements for stairlifts.
My last public persona was Françoise Lavery, a teacher of English at the Lycée Rousseau in the eleventh. Age thirty-two; born in Nantes; married and widowed in the same year to Raoul Lavery, killed in a car crash on the eve of their anniversary—a rather romantic touch, I thought, that explained her faint air of melancholy. A strict vegetarian, rather shy, diligent, but not talented enough to be a threat. All in all, a nice girl—which just goes to show you should never judge by appearances.
Today, however, I'm someone else. Twenty-five thousand euros is no small sum, and there's always the chance that someone will begin to suspect the truth. Most people don't—most people wouldn't notice a crime if it was going on right in front of them—but I haven't got this far by taking risks, and I've found that it's safer to stay on the move.
So I travellight—a battered leather case and a Sony laptop containing the makings of over a hundred possible identities—and I can be packed, cleaned out, all traces gone in rather less than an afternoon.
That's how Françoise disappeared. I burned her papers, correspondence, bank details, notes. I closed all accounts in her name. Books, clothes, furniture, and the rest I gave to the Croix Rouge. It never pays to gather moss.
After that I needed to find myself anew. I booked into a cheap hotel, paid on Amélie's credit card, changed out of Emma's clothes, and went shopping.
Françoise was a dowdy type, sensible heels and neat chignons. My new persona, however, has a different style. Zozie de l'Alba is her name—she is vaguely foreign, though you might be hard-pressed to tell her country of origin. She's as flamboyant as Françoise was not—wears costume jewelry in her hair; loves bright colors and frivolous shapes; favors bazaars and vintage shops, and would never be seen dead in sensible shoes.
The change was neatly executed. I entered a shop as Françoise Lavery, in a gray twinset and a string of fake pearls. Ten minutes later, I left as someone else.The Girl with No Shadow. Copyright ? by Joanne Harris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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