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Chocolat (1999)

by Joanne Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chocolat (1)

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7,8652011,137 (3.81)500
A young widow opens a chocolate shop in a French village, transforming its normally austere inhabitants into unabashed sensualists. The event coincides with Lent, and the villagers' rejection of traditional self-denial angers the parish priest who declares war. A first novel.
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English (179)  Dutch (9)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Lithuanian (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed reading Joanne Harris' book Chocolat. Set in a small French town in the present day, it tells the story of Vianne Rocher and her young daughter Anouk, fresh arrivals to the town, and ones viewed with suspicion. It is even rumoured that - *gasp* - she is a witch.

Witch or not, Vianne makes her living making and selling the world's best chocolate, tempting, aromatic, irresistable. So good is the chocolate that Pere Reynaud, the parish priest of the church across the street, loathes her on sight. She has chosen to open her chocolaterie on the first day of Lent, and already his parishoners are breaking their Lenten vows to taste the wonderful chocolates. Pere Reynaud is angry about absolutely everything, is not a good man, and hates the new residents, absolutely loathes them. He is not a particularly Christian man.

When gypsies on their houseboats arrive in Lansquenet, everything changes. Now there is an outlet for Reynaud's rage, new friends for Vianne and Anouk to welcome, and the ticking time bomb you hear is the sound of the disaster that blows up when the villagers take sides for and against the residents of the colourful houseboats on the river.

Sensual, magical, written with passion, Chocolat was a lovely treat. ( )
  ahef1963 | May 9, 2024 |
First, I’d like to congratulate anyone who (a) has the resilience to finish a manuscript; and (b) has the fortitude to put themselves out into the world and publish a book. It is because of these two factors that I don’t rate anything below a 3, for the two factors listed above, authors are simply deserving of at least a three. Now, for the review.

I have said it before, I am often disappointed after reading a book that has received incredible hype; especially if that hype was in regard to a movie made from a book. I again, have this feeling.

Chocolat is a good book, it is, in my opinion, not “delicious” or an “amazement of riches,” as touted in the book’s cover reviews. It is simply a well-written, easy to read book about a chocolatier gypsy who, for whatever reason, has her empathic insights likened to witchery - but only once or twice is this brought up; therefore, the witch concept was lot on me.

There was the beginning of a love interest where an abused parishioner of the local church leaves her husband and falls for a river man. Ugh - there was just nothing there. And then there was antagonist, the local priest. I really couldn’t grasp what his role was other than he was a bully in a cassock.

Would I recommend, Chocolat? Yes. Why, after no so great a review? Because there is nothing wrong with the book, it was just not all that entertaining to me. The writing is above average for sure and that alone is worth reading it. ( )
  LyndaWolters1 | Apr 3, 2024 |
This is one of the rare occasions I’m giving up on a book but I just don’t enjoy this one at all… From the beginning, I’m confronted with “paranormal”, “supernatural” bullshit.

»My mother was a witch.«

Yes, sure… But that’s not all, superstition abounds…

»The forking of the fingers to divert the path of malchance.«

Then there’s the catholic priest… I despise anything related to so-called “churches” which, to me, are dens of bigotry, hypocrisy and a haven for hostile and misanthropic beliefs and people. And, worst of all, home to any kind of preacher (the child-molesting variety gets extra protection).

So, yes, even in a negative context as in this novel, I don’t want to hear about those male harpies.

Also, a novel that in all seriousness tells me »Scrying with chocolate is a difficult business.« is beyond redemption.

The 25% I’ve read were also very, very clichéd with simplistic characters, a heroine that left me entirely and completely devoid of interest in herself or her “illegitimate” daughter and parts that felt so old-fashioned I was afraid of dying of boredom.

When I realised I was actually binge-watching the worst kind of TV show just to avoid reading this one (despite having ample time to read after a minor (but really annoying!) surgery), I allowed myself to let this one go. Since I don’t feel I read enough to give a star rating, I’ll abstain for once.

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  philantrop | Feb 11, 2024 |
This is the perfect fantasy for anyone who's not afraid to be different. Instantly drawn to this story, I found myself getting further and further into the plot while relating more and more with Vianne Rocher and her delightful daughter Anouk.
Filled with vivid depictions of a small-town attitude contradicting a world traveler's broadened horizons, one is instantly drawn to Vianne's witty, intelligent, exotic, and ecclectic personality. She is intuitive to the extent of being a witch, yet uses her supernatural gifts for the good of the town (whom for the most part wishes her away at once). Those villagers (whom I just want to hug!) who had the courage to befriend Vianne, find they are not disappointed. On the contrary, they find a beautiful friendship which they all needed more than anything.
Not only does Vianne inspire in her friends and customers of the Chocolaterie a yearning to be different, she gives them the courage to indulge, enjoy life, live a little.
Although I expected a romance to develop in this story, it's not what one expects. However, that is by far not its importance. For that, one can go to Blockbuster and watch Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp's romance in the film.
A very moving story with an exotic mysticism that will leave you entranced...A must-read! ( )
  b00kdarling87 | Jan 7, 2024 |
I was quite disappointed by this book. I had seen the film a long time ago, and remembered I liked it very much. So, naturally, I assumed I would like the book as well, if not even more so since that is usually the way things go with me. And, let's face it, how can a book revolving around chocolate not be good? I wanted to like this book SO BAD! But unfortunately, it just didn't do it for me. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this story, but I just feel that it was kind of a meh read.

Of course, there were some positives to it. Some of the characters were designed quite well, which made them really interesting to follow. Vianne, in particular, is very engaging and I really liked the fact that she was haunted by her past yet was willing to move forward from it, to fight her personal demons for her daughter's sake. She's a smart, funny and independent woman, and just the kind of character I wish I could be friends with. Seriously, she knows what you're feeling just by looking at you, always knows how to make you feel better and makes incredible chocolate treats! I also liked the fact that the book alternated the POV of Vianne and Reynaud in the narration, as it helped me to understand them more, as well as the reasons behind their behaviour.

Yet, I still had serious difficulties in being fully invested in the story. Both these characters had some pretty bad experiences in the past which seriously affected the way they behave. While at the beginning I was really curious and eager to find out all about the characters' backstory, the events were introduced very vaguely and confusedly referenced so many times throughout the book, that when the big revelations finally came, I just no longer cared about them. I had also serious difficulties in really bringing myself to care about any of the other characters. I couldn't quite point to one single factor, but there was something that just made them not work for me.

I might try to re-read this book at some point in the future to see if my feelings towards it change, but for now I'll just make up for my sadness with A LOT of chocolate.

Originally posted on Book For Thought. ( )
  bookforthought | Nov 7, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harris, Joanneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berdagué, RoserTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gothoni, ArjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandi, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szántó, Juditsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vré, Monique deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Roman over de smaak van liefde
Dedication
In memory of my great-grandmother Marie Andre Sorin (1892-1968)
First words
We came on the wind of the carnival.
Quotations
There is a kind of alchemy in the tranformation of base chocolate into this wise fool's gold, a layman's magic which even my mother might have relished. As I work I clear my mind, breathing deeply. The windows are open, and the through draught would be cold if it were not for the heat of the stoves, the copper pans, the rising vapour from the melting couverture. The mingled scents of chocolate, vanilla, heated copper and cinnamon are intoxicating, powerfully suggestive; the raw and earthy tang of the Americas, the hot and resinous perfume of the rainforest. This is how I travel now, as the Aztecs did in their sacred rituals. The court of Montezuma. Cortez and Columbus. The food of the gods, bubbling and frothing in ceremonial goblets. The bitter elixir of life.
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A young widow opens a chocolate shop in a French village, transforming its normally austere inhabitants into unabashed sensualists. The event coincides with Lent, and the villagers' rejection of traditional self-denial angers the parish priest who declares war. A first novel.

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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 Lenton vows. Her uncanny ability to preceive 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. (0-131-00018-X)
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