Book Reviews / Books

Review: Chocolat – Joanne Harris




Most of my close friends, and indeed some of my not-so-close acquaintances, will, at some point, have been a victim of my Joanne Harris campaign. In previous posts I’ve touched upon my tendency as a reader to demolish entire back catalogues of writers whose work I enjoy, and Joanne Harris is certainly no objection to the rule.

I still remember where I was when I first bought perhaps Harris’s most acclaimed novel. Having been given some HMV vouchers for Christmas, I made my way to the far right corner of the store where they stocked a small selection of books. Enticed by the front cover – this particular one bore a picture of Johnny Depp – there was also a quote from the Literary Review underneath the blurb: ‘Is this the best book ever written?’ it asked; and so I made a hasty purchase, adding to my ever-growing pile of tomes to read.

Chocolat is set in a fictional French village in Southern France, which immediately lends and atmospheric and evocative air to the book. It tells the story of Vianne Rocher and her six-year-old daughter Anouk, who, upon arriving in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes set up a Chocolaterie. It being the beginning of Lent, such is greeted with heavy disapproval by the local priest, who sees it as a provocative move. While initially much of the village treated Vianne with a level of polite hostility, she soon wins them round with her winning combination of charm and decadent delights.

A simply delicious tale, Chocolat appeals to all the senses as Harris’s descriptive style of writing brings alive an insular French village from a bygone era. Fusing romance, religion, temptation and sin, this magical novel is beautifully written and truly deserves its accolade as one of the best books ever written.

Love this post? Click here to subscribe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *