A Novel

Book - 1999
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When the exotic stranger Vianne Rocher arrives in the old French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique called "La Celeste Praline" directly across the square from the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock. It is the beginning of Lent: the traditional season of self-denial. The priest says she'll be out of business by Easter. To make matters worse, Vianne does not go to church and has a penchant for superstition. Like her mother, she can read Tarot cards. But she begins to win over customers with her smiles, her intuition for everyone's favourites, and her delightful confections. Her shop provides a place, too, for secrets to be whispered, grievances aired. She begins to shake up the rigid morality of the community. Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate éclair? For the first time, here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance, emerging as an agent of transformation. Rich, clever, and mischievous, reminiscent of a folk tale or fable, this is a triumphant read with a memorable character at its heart. Says Harris: "You might see [Vianne] as an archetype or a mythical figure. I prefer to see her as the lone gunslinger who blows into the town, has a showdown with the man in the black hat, then moves on relentless. But on another level she is a perfectly real person with real insecurities and a very human desire for love and acceptance. Her qualities too -- kindness, love, tolerance -- are very human." Vianne and her young daughter Anouk, come into town on Shrove Tuesday. "Carnivals make us uneasy," says Harris, "because of what they represent: the residual memory of blood sacrifice (it is after all from the word "carne" that the term arises), of pagan celebration. And they represent a loss of inhibition; carnival time is a time at which almost anything is possible." The book became an international best-seller, and was optioned to film quickly. The Oscar-nominated movie, with its star-studded cast including Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose previous film The Cider House Rules (based on a John Irving novel) also looks at issues of community and moral standards, though in a less lighthearted vein. The idea for the book came from a comment her husband made one day while he was immersed in a football game on TV. "It was a throwaway comment, designed to annoy and it did. It was along the lines of...Chocolate is to women what football is to men…" The idea stuck, and Harris began thinking that "people have these conflicting feelings about chocolate, and that a lot of people who have very little else in common relate to chocolate in more or less the same kind of way. It became a kind of challenge to see exactly how much of a story I could get which was uniquely centred around chocolate." Other Books Five Quarters of the Orange Blackberry Wine Sleep, Pale Sister The Evil Seed Suggested Reading John Allemang The Importance of Lunch Peter Mayle A Year in Provence; Encore Provence Patrick Süskind Perfume Jeannette Winterson Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : Doubleday Canada : 1999
ISBN: 9780385257435
Branch Call Number: FIC Harr
Characteristics: 242p


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CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 06, 2018

A chocolate shop opens across the street from the church, making the villagers uneasy.

Mar 16, 2016

This is a captivating book! It is an easy read filled with emotion and twists and turns. I loved that while I was reading it, my ideas about religion and treating people were brought to the surface. I could not believe the appalling behavior and thoughts of the priest. I loved how he fared in the end.

I am anxiously waiting for the sequel to come to my holds at the Porter branch!

Great book!!!

Jul 09, 2015

Descriptive, captivating and better than the movie.

Mar 03, 2015

“Chocolat” follows the life of Vianne Rocher, a chocolatier, and her daughter Anouk as they settle into a small French town. Vianne quickly opens up a chocolate store, but is met with hostility from the town’s priest. As Vianne’s store begins to pick up business and Vianne herself starts to find friends, the priest’s spite for her only grows. When a group of river travellers arrive, and it seems as though Vianne begins to fall for the handsome traveller Roux, the priest is nearly beside himself with the so-called ‘plague’ she has brought to the small town. So, the priest declares war, and humorous calamities ensue.

This novel is a little slow, but in an enjoyable way. Not too much happens too fast, and the events are spread out in a way that nicely leads up to and prepares the reader for the climax. The characters themselves are interesting and well-rounded, and help to keep the plot moving. The plot itself is humorous and upbeat, but does have darker undertones that make for an enjoyable, multilayered read. The setting is clever and unique, and described in minimal detail, allowing for readers to create their own images and personalities of the town.

Overall, the author of this review does recommend this book. It is not on the top of her list, but it was a fun read. “Chocolat” does have some deeper meanings, but readers would need to squint and stand on their head to really see them. Due to this, “Chocolat” would be a better pleasure read than an essay or ‘book talk’ book. The author of this review believes “Chocolat” to be suitable for ages thirteen and up.

Feb 11, 2013

Luckily I haven't seen the movie of this book for about ten years so the story was all new to me. I was surprised at its depth and intensity especially of the characters. The descriptions of the chocolate and pastries were mouthwatering, it made me want to visit a patisserie.

Aug 09, 2012

I started this book thinking it was going to be a light hearted, fun little story, much like the movie it was made into. I was suprised to find the book had much more emotional depth and the characters were motivated by slightly darker, more realistic desires and weaknesses. Running away from the past is a theme that runs strong throughout the story. There is also a lot about holding on to what you love and letting go of the past. Plus, if you're looking for a guilty pleasure, the parts describing food are amazing. I've never read a book that made my mouth water quite like this one did.

May 31, 2012

Loved the writing style of the book; however, I didn't care for either the book or movie. The movie had 2 notable scenes of love and friendship that were very moving.

Apr 28, 2012

Loved the format and style of the novel. Very different from the movie, and of course much, much better!

AnneDromeda Mar 28, 2011

<p>This book was perfect light reading for troubled times. It has romantic elements without being cloyingly so; there are rich descriptions of chocolate that don't end in an increase in my thigh circumference; and it dabbles in magical realism without devolving into that dementedly cheerful superstitious territory currently covered by much of the witchy chic lit out there. Not to mention, the author holds a much firmer grasp of the proper function of punctuation than most supernatural romance writers. This is good - it results in the book taking far fewer unscheduled flights while I'm reading it.</p>

<p>There are some interesting differences between the book and the movie (a change in time period as well as a change in the ancestry of the main character, Vianne) that might make strong grist for certain book clubs' mills. All in all, though, those who've seen the movie and loved the wistful tone will enjoy the book, as will fans of magical realism. It's the rarest of gems - an <i>intelligent</i> light read.</p>

Jan 06, 2011

A very quick, pleasant read. Sip a mocha while reading for maximum enjoyment.

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