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Old friends... (POSSIBLE SPOILERS)
on 10 June 2012
I have been a long time Joanne Harris fan. My favourite book is 'Chocolat', closely followed by the sequel 'The Lollipop Shoes.' So, I was very excited to hear she had the third in the series coming out. I pre-ordered and eagerly awaited its arrival.
Firstly, I really don't like the cover. I don't think it does anything for the book and, while I can see the significance of the wasp it would really put me off if I hadn't read the previous books. I wasn't at all keen on the title either, but can now see why Joanne decided to call it 'Peaches for Monsieur le Cure.'
We are eight years on from 'Chocolat' but back with Vianne, Roux, Rosette and Anouk. They are currently living in Paris but Vianne receives a letter, urging her to return to Lansquenet. When she returns she finds her old enemy, Francis Reynaud the outcast and the village divided by religion. Vianne sees it as her duty to try to help.
Harris treats us, once more, to evocative descriptions of food (in particular peaches and chocolate) and descriptions of rural France. We are re-introduced to some old friends and meet some new ones. The introduction to Muslim culture was a change and something I didn't know much about before reading the book.
So why only three stars? Well, firstly, I found the story quite contrived. Frances Reynaud ran Vianne out of town and yet she rushes to his aid. This made it very difficult for me to feel any sympathy for him. Also, I found quite a lot of the Muslim family relationships to be quite complicated. I couldn't remember who was related to who. Another issue was the whole plot with Karim and Reynaud. I just thought it was silly.
I really missed the chocolaterie that has been in the other two books and just thought this lacked the same 'magic'. The book took me a long time to get into, which has never been an issue before. I didn't find myself rushing to pick it up, as I have done previously.
As a final point, I really think the books need to be read in order, but 'Peaches' in particular is very much a third story in a series. I don't think it would make much sense if you hadn't read the previous two.