Book Review: Chocolat, by Joanne Harris




Genre: Fiction/Chick Lit
Date Published: October 1998
Number Of Pages: 306 pages
Source: Owned paperback copy (book sale therapy!)


Synopsis: When beautiful, unmarried Vianne Rocher sweeps into the pinched little French town of Lansquenet on the heels of the carnival and opens a gem of a chocolate shop across the square from the church, she begins to wreak havoc with the town's Lenten vows. Her uncanny ability to perceive her customers' private discontents and alleviate them with just the right confection coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation and happiness, but enrages Pere Reynaud, the local priest. Certain only a witch could stir such sinful indulgence and devise such clever cures, Reynaud pits himself against Vianne and vows to block the chocolate festival she plans for Easter Sunday, and to run her out of town forever. Witch or not (she'll never tell), Vianne soon sparks a dramatic confrontation between those who prefer the cold comforts of the church and those who revel in their newly discovered taste for pleasure.
Hailed as "an amazement of riches few readers will be able to resist" by The New York Times Book Review, Chocolat is a timeless and enchanting story about temptation, pleasure, and what a complete waste of time it is to deny yourself anything.


My Rating: 
★★★
...for being a well-written read, but not fantastic plot-wise


My Thoughts: 

Okay, I confess I saw the movie first.....and I liked the movie better.

I'm sorry! I feel like such a traitor saying that I enjoyed the movie over the book, but, *sigh* it's true. I enjoyed the strength of some of the characters, and I loved Anouk, but I found that in the book, the plot had too many things happening; too many discoveries and revelations, too many plot add-ons. It felt rather disorganized to me. The structure in the movie felt like it had more flow. Plus, I liked how the movie's story took place in a earlier time period. It made the conservatism of the villain clash even more with Vianne's modern ideals. The fact that the book's story took place in the 90's made the clash feel a little over the top, as though the priest was being old-fashioned and too demanding and condemning.

I will say this, though: the writing was beautiful. This is clearly a trained author, with a very fluid and intricate style. Seriously, the book is worth a look for the writing alone.

Overall, I think this is a decent read, but not amazing. I was already in love with the movie, which made it more difficult for me to judge this story without bias, but I certainly wasn't wowed. However, I do see this book worthy of discussion as a BOTM, because I'm certain I missed some illuminating aspects of the novel. I'd say take a look, but don't expect to be swept off your feet.

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