The tantalizing sequel to the blockbuster New York Times bestseller Chocolat
Even before it was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, Joanne Harris’s Chocolat entranced readers with its mix of hedonism, whimsy, and, of course, chocolate. Now, at last, Chocolat’s heroine returns to the beautiful French village of Lansquenet in another, equally beguiling tale.
When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to return to Lansquenet, where she once owned a chocolate shop and learned the meaning of home. But returning to one’s past can be a dangerous pursuit, and Vianne and her daughters find the beautiful French village changed in unexpected ways: women veiled in black, the scent of spices in the air, and—facing the church—a minaret. Most surprising of all, her old nemesis, Francis Reynaud, desperately needs her help. Can Vianne work her magic once again?
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.48(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread Award-nominated Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp) and eleven other bestselling novels. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was sixteen, is currently studying Old Norse and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, England.
What People are Saying About This
“Worth immersing yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of Lansquenet’s narrow 200-year-old streets.”—The Washington Post
“Harris’s skill at vibrantly depicting the charm and eccentricity of rural French life is at the heart of this delightful novel.” —Library Journal
Reading Group Guide
As the new moon rises and Paris languishes in the August heat, Vianne Rocher beckons the summer wind. What possible harm could come from a tiny breeze, one just enough to stir the air in her sweltering kitchen? But Vianne knows from experience that the wind is seldom predictable and always brings change. What she doesn’t expect, however, is a letter from a dead friend summoning her to Lansquenet, the village she left eight years ago.
Arriving with her daughters, Vianne finds Lansquenet apparently as she left it. Even Father Francis Reynaud, her nemesis from the days when she sold chocolates in the parish, seems almost unchanged. But a closer inspection reveals that time hasn’t stood completely still. Carried on the wind are scents—charred wood from a recent fire, exotic spices, Moroccan hashish—that belie the illusion. A mosque now stands across the Tannes river, opposite the church. There are women wearing traditional Muslim veils. Calls to prayer compete with Father Francis’s church bells.
More than a bridge divides the two sides of the river. A deep mistrust of Inès Bencharki, a woman who strictly adheres to Islamic tradition, has alienated villagers of both faiths. Her very presence has brought nothing but mistrust and discord. Could she be the influence which has brought about this change? Or might her veil also hide secrets that could tear the village apart?
As neighbor turns against neighbor, any hope that the two communities could come together seems to be dashed. Father Francis, suspected of being the arsonist who destroyed Inès Bencharki’s school for girls, could lose more than his church. War is about to break out in Lansquenet. And Vianne Rocher might be the only one who can stop it.
ABOUT JOANNE HARRIS
Joanne Harris, part French and part English, found the inspiration for her novel Chocolat in her own family history and folklore—herself having lived in a sweet–shop and being the great–granddaughter of a Frenchwoman known locally as a witch and a healer who once disguised herself as an apparition of the Virgin Mary to shock the local priest. Harris, who studied at St. Catharine’s College in Cambridge where she received a BA and an MA in French and German, teaches French in an English school and lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and daughter.
A CONVERSATION WITH JOANNE HARRIS
Q. Traveling for your books takes you around the world. How are your books received differently from country to country? What do you think accounts for the differences?
My books are now published in more than fifty countries, and I try to share my time as evenly as I can, although there are some territories I’ve not yet managed to visit. The differences in the way my books are received and interpreted are mostly due, I think, to varying translation styles, cultural attitudes and reading habits, although these differences are relatively small—my stories deal largely with universal themes, familiar to every culture. Nevertheless I find that my darker, more troubling stories—Gentlemen and Players, Blueeyedboy, Five Quarters of the Orange—are greeted with more enthusiasm in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries, where readers are used to darker, more challenging themes, while my lighter, more “feel–good” books are more popular in Latin countries and the U.S., where readers value escapism and sensuality, and prefer to identify directly with the characters in the books. Countries with a strong tradition of food and Catholicism (Italy, Portugal, Spain) understand and love my Chocolat books, while countries with a strong background in folklore and mythology (Iceland, Scandinavia) seem to enjoy my fantasy books (Runemarks, Runelight). Having said that, it’s hard to generalize. Readers basically gravitate to what suits them most, and I enjoy their different reactions.
Q. Did you, like Vianne, find it difficult to return to Lansquenet? How did you feel about the changes that had occurred since you wrote about it in Chocolat?
I was slightly anxious about returning to Lansquenet, mostly because I loved the place, but knew that over the course of eight years, certain aspects of it would have changed. Change is never entirely comfortable, but it is the engine that drives a story, and, like Vianne, I knew I would have to confront some of those differences before the story could come to life. The most significant change, of course, is the growth of the Moroccan community across the river and its effect on the locals, but eight years have also wrought changes in the internal politics of the village, and Francis Reynaud, seeing his position of power threatened by recent circumstances, finds himself in the humiliating position of having to ask for Vianne’s help. I rather enjoyed this reversal of roles—I’d always felt that Reynaud had hidden qualities, but that it would take a crisis to bring out his true personality. As for Vianne, I always knew that if she were ever to find her place in the world, she would have to go back to Lansquenet and confront the fears that pushed her to leave. I think that Vianne is essentially afraid, both of change, and of rejection, which is why she seems so incapable of settling down or accepting permanent relationships. In Peaches, she learns to look at herself—one more step on the road to self–knowledge.
Q. What inspired you to write this novel?
The novel continues a series of books (of which the last was Blueeyedboy) investigating the idea of real and false identity: the faces we show to other people; how we perceive others; what lies we tell; what image we choose to project to the world. In 2010, at the beginning of Ramadan, when France was on the verge of banning the veil in public places (several other countries had already done so), a story about the niqab—that much–disputed little piece of fabric, that simultaneously hides and proclaims—seemed a perfect continuation of the same theme.
Q. Were you concerned at all about the sensitive themes in this book? How do you expect Muslim readers to react? Would you ever make changes in order to avoid controversy?
I’ve heard a great deal about the “sensitive issues” of this book. I’m not sure why they’re seen as especially sensitive—perhaps because I’m a non–Muslim, writing about people from a different culture. I do, however, live in a community with a large Muslim population, and where, as a teacher, I was involved in the affairs of the mosque and of the local community. Some of my characters are based on real people: Inès Bencharki’s story was taken from a real–life account. I have tried to depict the people of Lansquenet—both Muslim and Catholic—as sympathetically and as honestly as I can, without making generalizations or succumbing to the irrational pressures of those who believe that writers should never venture from the narrow channels of their personal experience. Muslim readers in the UK have been very kind and supportive of this—in fact, the only criticism I have received so far has been from non–Muslims suffering from too much political correctness.
Q. This reading group guide asks readers their opinion on controversies surrounding France’s banning of the veil and passionate opposition to mosques being built in the United States. What sorts of feelings have similar controversies in England stirred in you?
Not being affiliated to any religious group, I think everyone should be free to worship as and where they choose, as long as their belief does not extend to persecution or intolerance. However, I do mistrust those who bring religion into politics, or use it as an excuse for repression, violence or hatred. As for the face veil, I dislike it for a number of reasons—as a feminist, I believe it isolates women by making it almost impossible for them to interact with people outside their community—but to legislate against it would be equally wrong, giving further ammunition to extremists and encouraging racial hostility. Instead we should be asking ourselves why some women now wear the veil when their mothers and grandmothers did not; it’s a complex and emotional issue, which needs to be looked at carefully.
Q. You’re a pioneer in the exceedingly successful marriage of food and fiction. How has your writing influenced your taste in food and vice versa?
It hasn’t, really. I’ve always believed that food was the first and simplest means of accessing a different culture—even without knowing the language or local customs, anyone can try a new dish. When I travel, I always eat whatever is most special to the people around me, even if I find it strange or distasteful. To me, it’s a mark of respect to the host country. As for the marriage of fiction and food—these things have always been close in European folklore; all we need to do is look at our childhood fairy tales to see the talismanic properties of food and the importance of feasting and fasting. Food is at the same time a simple and very complex subject, loaded with ritual, history and emotional resonance. I don’t see myself as a pioneer but as following a long tradition.
Q. Vianne thinks it’s important for children to have an imaginary (or not so imaginary) friend. Did—or should I say, do—you have one?
I did, once, although Pantoufle was originally my daughter’s. Imaginary friends are often the expression of ideas too difficult for a young child to articulate, and shouldn’t be seen as a cause for alarm, but as an opportunity to understand and to communicate.
Q. Everyone’s a critic these days. Do you ever read readers’ reviews of your books online? How do you feel about such feedback being available?
I read them occasionally, without paying too much attention to them. Opinions are so varied (and so freely expressed) that I don’t trust much of what I read—although there are some excellent bloggers whose opinions I have come to respect.
Q. What books or authors have inspired you? Are there any that you turn to again and again?
Victor Hugo, especially Les Misérables, a book I loved as an adolescent and to which I return again and again, finding new things to admire at every re–reading; Nabokov, for his exquisite command of the language; Ray Bradbury, for his masterly narrative skills and his irrepressible joie de vivre.
10. What are you working on now? Can we look forward to reading about our friends in Lansquenet in a new novel?
I don’t generally discuss works in progress, but I’m certain that one day there will be another story about Vianne—or maybe her daughters. I’ve become very fond of them all, and of Lansquenet–sous–Tannes, and something tells me it won’t be long before that wind starts blowing again . . .
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read "Chocolat" years ago and loved the characters, especially Vianne. I eventually found "The Girl With No Shadow" and was equally impressed with that story, and now "Peaches for Father Francis" - I loved them all. Just the right amountn of "magic" and a feel good book as well. Vianne always has a way of helping those around her. I have other books by this author in my "wish list" and hope to get to them soon.
I really liked this book, the third in the series that started with Chocolat. It's a very engaging and fun read (without being mindless or frothy). It's also more suspenseful than I expected. Some very dramatic surprises near the end, too! I'd recommend this to anyone who liked Chocolat.
The continuing saga of the "psychic" chocolatier and her family. Cannot wait for the next episode. I am wondering if she will return to her old store and old friends. Very entertaining.
Joanne Harris revisits the characters from her hit book Chocolat, years after they moved to Paris. Her children, Roux, Father Francis and many other characters are back in the French town of Lasquenet. The town has changed a lot since Vivienne moved away, and she gets to know many of the new Muslim families. There is a mystery woman with a big secret that will have you guessing until the end. Very well written as usual. I can't believe that Ms. Harris is not wildly popular in the US. The magic in her books is a real treasure.
There is no good reason for an e-book that costs more than a paperback to have less editing and proofreading than a printed copy would. Distracting typographical errors, lower-case instead of capitals at the beginning of sentences, odd spaces in the middle of the page-- There is no excuse. Buy the book in print.
I loved Chocolat and that French Village it took place in . I was a little unsure of this book holding up to my love of the first book. But it did. This book is as good as Chocolat. Alot of the same characters and some great new ones.
finally finished father francis' saga...lots and lots of characters in this read...found myself flipping back to recall just who was who and related to whom....good story definitely a recommended read...descriptive and detailed..sometimes repetitive, but enjoyable and quite informative multiculturally...it did hold my interest but toward the end of the 400 plus pages i got tired of it and wanted to get to the bottom line....period