by: Joanne Harris

Published: 1999

# of pages: 306

Quote: “‘It sounds stupid, but I used to think that there must have been a mistake somewhere, that one day someone was going to come and tell me that it wasn’t happening, that this was all some other woman’s dream and that none of it could ever have happened to me –‘” -Josephine pp. 175-176

What an enjoyable book! It was short but had a lot of depth. I love reading books that really make you think every once in awhile. This book may be considered by some to be “anti-Christian,” but I think that if anything it would be anti-Catholic. Even so, I don’t think it has to be about religion versus paganism. My mom read this before I did and said she felt it was more pleasure versus legalism and I agree. The Catholic church and paganism (magic) are used as examples, but the underlying battle is between legalism and pleasure. Also, it is a typical battle of good versus evil.

The story is told by Vianne Rocher, a wandering single mother who decides to open a chocolate shop in a small French town. She works hard to open the shop and make new friends. She quickly has an impact on the town, especially the “outcasts” such as an old witch, gypsies, an abused woman, and a man whose best friend is his dog. She helps all of these people and accepts them as they are. The other parts of the book are told by Reynauld, the curate of the village church. He immediately hates Vianna and her daughter and does everything he can to keep people from visiting her shop. He preaches against indulging in chocolates during Lent, and creates friction and sees every move she makes as a battle he has to retaliate against.

These two characters are completely opposites, one is good, loving, and accepting while the other is evil, filled with hate, and manipulative. However, it was interesting to see what the two have in common as well. Both have strong pasts that they continue to remember as the story progresses. They both had parental figures that influenced the people they turned out to be. They are both passionate and have strong desires.

Overall this was a very well written as well as fascinating book. The descriptions were intricate and delicious (they really are!). You should definitely keep some chocolate nearby while you read! I also enjoyed the fact that Harris bases parts of the book after her own life and family members. The book does have some bad language, but I definitely recommend it to adults who are looking for a good read or who enjoy the magic realism genre.

One thought on “Chocolat

  1. I love magic realism, yet for some reason I still haven’t read this one! I really need to do something about that. Thanks for the lovely review, Amanda. I like what you said about pleasure vs legalism. It sounds like a very interesting theme.


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