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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent stuff, very different feel to the film
Vivianne Rocher and her daughter Anock arrive in the French villiage Lansquenet (I like that it never really tells you quite where they are from) and are clearly marked as outsiders. They don't go to church and they open a chocolate chop opposite the church during Lent. Father Rayraud from the church takes this as open warfare and begins to undermine them and try to get...
Published on 25 Sept. 2007 by rhinoa

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the film
I'm only giving this a 6 because usually the book is always better than the film. Not so in this case. I found the storyline disappointing as it differed quite considerably from the film. I don't normally do 'chick-lit' so, when I do, I expect the fairytale outcome. This the film delivers. The book does not. I also found the characterisation disappointing as we do not...
Published on 13 Aug. 2011 by pigsmayfly


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent stuff, very different feel to the film, 25 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Vivianne Rocher and her daughter Anock arrive in the French villiage Lansquenet (I like that it never really tells you quite where they are from) and are clearly marked as outsiders. They don't go to church and they open a chocolate chop opposite the church during Lent. Father Rayraud from the church takes this as open warfare and begins to undermine them and try to get them to leave the villiage.

A cast of excellent main and secondary characters, this novel really drew me in. The different chocolates made my mouth water and I loved the Pagan side to the novel that was missed out of the film (which I also enjoyed but for different reasons). I liked that you never quite knew where Vivianne was from origianlly and learning the shocking truth behind her upbringing was again something left out of the film. The war between them and "The Black Man" was done well and I liked that it wasn't specifically anti-christianity. The point was there are good and bad people, religion doesn't make you either neccessarily.

The ending was quite mixed. The new blessing to Vivianne's life was wonderful, but I was sad that the wind still called to them to move on again. It would be lovely if Harris wrote a sequel. To anyone who enjoyed the film, please read the book. It is very different whilst still retaining the charm of the film. I will dedinately be reading more from this author, although I have heard this is by far her best novel to date.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful and hugely evocative magically rich offering, 29 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Film Tie-in) (Paperback)
This book falls outside most genres, and I am surprised it has been turned into a film. Not because it is a bad book, or even because it is non-genre (although that often confuses film makers) but because its strength is the use of language and description of people, moods and food. This is wonderful on the written page but never easily tranfers to film.
The beauty of the book is its timeless appraoch to people, religion, feelings, and the textures of life that are often not written about. The book covers a lot of ground, dealing with different types of people (each with their own voice) with their loves and interests and fears and jealousies. It has a bit of memories, but mainly it is based in the small village, and the richness of texture comes from the characters who populate it.
It is a book that could appeal to all, certainly anyone who has an interest in what people are like, and how small communities only need a minor event to change their outlook and (small) world-view
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lose yourself in this, 27 Oct. 2007
By 
Net (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Having seen the film first I started reading this mainly out of nostalgia as I love the film so much. The book has a very different (darker) feel to it but is still enormously enjoyable. JH is such a wonderfully evocative writer and is able to create such enchanting characters. I only wish the book ended on a more settled note rather than with the slightly unsatisfying `anything might happen' conclusion. However, I accept my view has probably been tainted by the Hollywood sweetened ending of the film. Wonderful story by a great writer; but be prepared for a marked difference to the film.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chocolat - The meaning of life?, 8 Mar. 2006
By 
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
I didn't expect much from this book, my mother told me to read it as she loved it and so i thought i would give it a go - and how glad i am that I did! This book has so much hidden depth which is not apparently obvious from the title. I have never seen paganism and catholicism brought together so cleverly. A beautiful look at how religions work and are not so different. I found the book to be very touching and insightfull. The characters are a very well thought up blend of people and portrays a good spectrum of people from most walks of life, all cleverly tied together in a small village. Harris brought everyone of them to life beautifuly and each had a different yet stricking character and they all somehow seem very familiar and I found i could relate most of them to people I have encountered. All in all this is a wonderful feel good book I would recomend it to everyone as a clever look at religion and sociology! (I will appologise hear for my spelling which im sure is atrocious)!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chocolat, 20 Aug. 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chocolat (Kindle Edition)
Reading this novel feels almost as indulgent as the chocolates which tempt the reader on every page. The story begins on Shrove Tuesday, when Vianne Rocher enters a tiny village, her six year old daughter Anouk in tow. Vianne has spent her life constantly on the move, her mother dragging her from country to country and now she wishes to put down some roots and create a different way of life for her own daughter. "If ever a place were in need of a little magic..." she thinks and opens a chocolate shop in the little square, directly opposite the Church. The local priest, Francis Reynaud, is self righteous, opinionated and resentful of the shop he sees as frivolous and sinful. It represents everything he dislikes and he immediately begins to plot Vianne's downfall.

This then is the story of battle lines drawn between the vibrant, bright and unapologetic Vianne, who flaunts her ideas and brings change to the people she meets and the brooding Reynaud. There are other characters of course, and they are important to the plot and engaging in their way, but it is the relationship between Vianne and Reynaud which are the bones on which the flesh of the story appears. Everything Vianne does is seen as a challenge and an affront to the priest, who tries to stop the changes which are overtaking his domain. This is a magical book, an easy read, but with interesting themes and characters and a simply wonderful ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure magic, 4 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Some books are just impossible to put down, and Chocolat is one of them: a tale of feminine versus masculine and desire versus duty, all set in rural France in springtime. Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk sweep into a small French village and slowly, but surely, change the lives of all those who come into contact with them
Told through two narrative voices - that of Vianne herself and that of the village's somewhat suspicious priest, this story unfolds as seen through two different pairs of eyes with two very different viewpoints. As the tale progresses, the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into the conflict between the two - being forced to choose between Vianne's free way of living and that of Francis Reynaud's repressive self-denial, meeting a cast of lively characters along the way.
Although at times, the novel becomes a little sickly-sweet, it is not hard to suspend our disbelief and allow ourselves to be caught up in what is essentially a good old-fashioned fairy tale with more than a touch of magic about it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and a great movie, 26 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
I committed the ultimate sin, I saw the movie first!! I know you're probably gasping at how bad that is of me but I have to say the movie was briliant enough for me to go out and buy the book and I'm glad I did. The book has many differences to the movie and I can see where the moviemakers changed things around and why and I'm glad to say that it still works as otherwise I would never have bought the book. The book is amazing, I fell in love with the characters and even though I'd seen the movie first I was able to imagine something different to what I'd seen. The book is a rich vibrant book with a great story full of wonderful characters, buy it, read it, treasure it. I tell you that it's well worth reading it will fill you with a lot of joy and make you want to go out to France and just sit in a store just like the one in the book and drink hot chocolate.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delicious, indulgent read, 7 Jan. 2007
By 
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
In this novel Harris captures a certain magic that compels you to read on and discover the secrets within. Set in a small French village, Chocolat tells the tale of Vianne Rocher- a pagan, single mother who sets up a chocolate shop in a mainly god-fearing town on the eve of the Christian celebration of Lent. As the novel unfolds and the townsfolk one-by-one give in to the allure of Vianne's famous chocolates and drinks we hear their life stories and really get a clear image of their character and hidden selves. Showing the struggle between religion and ingulging your desires this is a truly captivating read.

The characters all seem to have a true-to-life element about them and are completely believable. The only dissapointing part of this book for me was the end which was a little too abrupt for my liking. It is well worth a read, but save it for when you have a large space of time free as it will completely enthrall you in all it's twists and turns.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars escapism, magic and free spirited, 29 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
I loved this book, and couldn't put it down. Vianne Rocher is my kind of heroine - forthright, creative yet practical, magical and "can do". The storyline unfolded well, the pace works for a light and entertaining read, even if it does become rather over indulgent at times. The structure of the book, with the opposing views of the two main protaganists, may be annoying for some people, but added depth and "angst" for me. In a lot of ways I wish the author had spent more time on the book to develop the characters even more, this could have a been a stonking block buster - but then I guess it would have lost the magical feel that I got from it. If you want romance, hmmm, maybe, but if you want something sensual and kind, this is it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Indulgent Trip into French Rural Life, 13 May 2013
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Chocolat is set in the small French village of Lansquenet, a place where routine and reassuring familiarity dominate daily activities. It is to this small and isolated village that the mysterious traveller, Vianne Rocher, arrives with her daughter. Setting up the chocolaterie, La Celeste Praline, Vianne brings a disturbance to the traditional rhythm of Lansquenet, inspiring condemnation from the local priest, Father Reynaud. Judging Vianne as a malign influence upon his community, Reynaud sets out to bring down La Celeste Praline and provoke Vianne to abandon Lansquenet for a new home. This battle of wills grows only more divisive once Vianne declares her plan to host an Easter Chocolate Festival, celebrating the various religious and secular traditions associated with the holiday. Combined with the arrival of a group of river travellers, Reynaud senses that he is losing control over his flock, and seeks out desperate measures to restore his version of normality to the village. As events reach their climax, it becomes clear that Reynaud's vision for Lansquenet cannot coexist with Vianne's determination to disseminate happiness and bring the village out of its self-imposed slumber.

This is a book working on numerous levels and appealing to all the senses. It is impressive first-and-foremost in its ability to communicate a familiarity with culture, despite obvious cultural differences. The author's narrative is rich in the description and detail that is necessary to present the reader an immersive experience of an unfamiliar location. She brings Lansquenet to life masterfully. Much of this is also owed to the characters she creates. While I cannot say that I was left with a love or understanding of Vianne, Harris does craft her main character as both multi-dimensional and extremely complex. One of the most interesting aspects of Chocolat was the way in which Vianne is simultaneously the seemingly carefree usurper of the community, yet humanised through the first-person narrative the Harris employs. A central theme of the book is the revelation of Vianne's life and principles as very much the product of her upbringing, forced from place to place by her own mother. From this, the reader develops a real sympathy for Vianne, brought most acutely to bear through the obvious sense of emotional and physical exhaustion that such a lifestyle creates.

While the contrast that Harris creates, between the traditional, ritualistic life of Lansquenet and Vianne's indulgent approach to living, is an effective one, there is a fundamental problem in relating to her characters. While I was certainly left with a sympathy for Vianne, I retained a complete lack of investment in her decisions and the ultimate outcome of the book. I believe that the books we love are built upon the relationship of the reader with the characters - not necessarily a positive relationship, but certainly premised on investment in both narrative and plot. Chocolat did not manage this - owed, I believe, largely to the caricature-like development of Father Reynaud. Entering the novel as a man of faith and particular devotion to tradition and self-deprivation, he takes on a malevolence that feels utterly disproportionate to both plot and setting. Declaring, in a manner truly akin to the best of James Bond villains, "I'll have her in the end, mon pere. In the end, won't I have them all?," Rocher is painted in a manner that renders him utterly unrealistic. This is not about the character or personality traits per se, but rather Rocher's unsuitability to the narrative in which he is placed. In a world of conservatism and chocolate shops, even when the central theme is one of Church versus Chocolate, Rocher's character is uncomfortably unreal.

The idea upon which Chocolat is built is an intriguing one and, indeed, for the first half of the novel the interplay between traditional village life and the indulgence of La Celeste Praline is a brilliant one. Had the plot continued on this path, developing the conflict with a tone that suited the setting and characters, this book would be a remarkable read. I still believe that this is a novel worth picking up, particularly if you are looking for a light-hearted dip into rural France, and I very much doubt that you would regret giving Chocolat your time. But you may, like me, find yourself left with a feeling of something lacking. A wish that you could feel more invested in the novel's climax and conclusion, rather than having the caricatured conflict and character of Reynaud serving as a persistent reminder that you are an outsider to this story.
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