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4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 May 2012
"Someone once told me that, in France alone, a quarter of a million letters are delivered every year to the dead. What she didn't tell me is that sometimes the dead write back."

Joanne Harris returns to the beautiful village of Lansquenet, in south-west France for her latest novel, the third in the 'Chocolat' series: 'Peaches for Monsieur le Curé'. When Vianne Rocher receives a very unexpected letter from her old friend Armande Voizin, asking her to visit Lansquenet, Vianne leaves her partner, Roux, on their houseboat in Paris and takes her daughters, Anouk and Rosette, on a return journey to the place where she opened her magical chocolate shop eight years ago.

At first, the village with its old cobbled streets and its little shops and ramshackle houses appears the same as always to Vianne, but when she meets her old adversary, Francis Reynaud, Monsieur le Curé, Vianne realizes that something is not quite right and there is a reason why she is needed back in Lansquenet. The wind of Ramadan that has blown Vianne back to the tiny village has already brought a community of Moroccan Muslims to Lansquenet and these new incomers have brought significant changes to village life along with their aromas of spices and mint tea. As Vianne stays longer than she initially intended, she begins to see that the heady cultural mix of people in her old village is causing more problems than would at first be thought, and Reynaud may need more of Vianne's special brand of help than she is fully prepared to give. And when a mysterious veiled woman and her daughter come to Lansquenet, and shun almost everyone around them, things become very interesting indeed.

For her latest book, Joanne Harris has brought several themes - intolerance, prejudice and issues of race, gender and religion - into play, and she has cleverly woven these strands into a novel that makes for an enchanting, thought-provoking and very entertaining read, without ever becoming heavy-handed. If you enjoyed Chocolat then you will love this latest instalment with its sensuous descriptions, its enticing scents and textures and its very special blend of magic.

4 Stars.
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on 29 May 2012
I first read `chocolat' when it was first published in 1999. So entering once again the magical world of Vianne Rocher is very much like greeting a long lost old friend!
It is now eight years since Vianne left behind the village of Lansquenet in south west France. On a sultry hot August day Vianne and her two young daughter's arrive at the village. It is an entirely different place that Vianne now returns to: old friends are different and secretive, an adversary now needs Vianne's help. Across the river a new Muslim community has settled in with their different culture and customs. The air is rich with new exotic smells. There is a mysterious woman veiled and dressed in black.
Joanne Harris yet again draws the reader in with her sensual and evocative writing. The delightful scene where she describes the process of making peach jam perfectly captured all the rich smells and colours, and I could almost taste the sweet and sticky fruit.
As the book precedes all the strands of the story unravel expertly keeping the readers attention. As with `chocolat' themes of prejudices, being an outsider, being different and religion are explored and touched on. Joanne Harris manages to write about these sorts of issues without taking the moral high ground, but manages instead to explore tensions from the point of view of all her characters.
All in all a very good read that will appeal to fans of `chocolat'.
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Peaches for Monsieur le Curé is the perfect antidote for a typically British Summer (wet and dismal!) as you're immediately swept to the sultry setting of Paris in August. A voice from the past returns to haunt Vianne Rocher, now living on a houseboat with Roux and her children, Anouk and Rosette. It is eight years since she left Lansquenet in the South West of France and she "seems" to be settled and happy but something is calling her back and, after all, "What harm could it do?".

Readers who have shared the trials and tribulations of Vianne's stormy life from Chocolat to The Lollipop Shoes will be equally enthralled by this latest instalment. Our story takes place during the month of Ramadan, beginning with the sighting of the new moon and the return of Vianne to Lansquenet. There are two narrators, Vianne and her arch-enemy, Reynaud, the village curate. The passing years seem to have mellowed Vianne and she keeps a low profile in the village. Once she was the threatening newcomer, the one who shook the foundations of this sleepy village but new tensions are emerging with the growth of a Muslim community. What follows is a thrilling narrative with two communities thriving on their own fear and ignorance. Reynaud is no longer the golden boy but will Vianne forgive and forget past grievances?

I loved Peaches for Monsieur le Curé and I only wish that every book I read had the same power to transport me elsewhere in the midst of characters so vivid I feel I know them. Joanne Harris weaves a seductively spellbinding narrative exploring what makes any community tick - our fear of the unknown, how easily prejudices take root spreading unease and tension. She's not afraid to tackle the controversial subject of the niqab, the face veil which was banned by the French government in 2011. Indeed "Peaches" certainly provides a lot of food for thought! If you enjoyed Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes you will relish this latest story and we can all live in hope that we haven't heard the last of Vianne and her family.
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on 26 May 2012
Joanne Harris`s new book is wise and wonderful. Buy a copy for everyone you love. No-one does place, psychology and the fragrance of food like this writer. Vianne is able to intuit people`s thoughts by reading their "colours" which adds to the magic. The priest is given the Malvolio treatment, luscious jam is made from Armande`s peach tree and a whole new group of fascinating characters is revealed. I loved this book.
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on 2 June 2012
Yet another gripping, can't put down novel by Joanne Harris. Stunning, elegant, intense, magical, powerful and simply enjoyable. Can't praise Joanne Harris enough. This endearing, charming, can't put down book was finished in a day. Yes I should have saved it a little, but honestly, it's full of delicate twists and turns, thought provoking imagery and enchanting language and characters. She creates such a beautiful picture, from the stunning cultural symbols and the depiction of the french countryside to the loveable, fragile characters, the books is a luxurious wealth created out of love and heart. I have not read many books by an author who displays such passion and love in her writing. It is truly inspiring. Need a fourth book in the series pronto s'il vous plait :).
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on 31 May 2012
After the lows (in my opinion of course)) of "Blue Eyed Boy", Joanne Harris has again soared into the heavens with this simply marvellous re-visitation of the village of Lansquenet, home of the equally enchanting "Chocolat". All the old characters whom we got to either love or hate re-appear (one even from beyond the grave) in glorious technicolor, together with a host of equally fascinating Maghrébin incomers, in the course of celebrating their feast of Ramadan.
I think that it is very brave of the author to take-on the challenge of exploring the issues of Islamic culture and separateness which have so divided French society. This she does in an extremely sensitive fashion, hopefully offending nobody.
This is probably the first time that my wife has criticised me for "having my head in a book". True though; I couldn't put it down!
I wonder how many other readers will now, like me, re-read "Chocolat"?
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on 26 March 2015
If I could I would give this ten stars. Vianne of Chocolat is wind blown back to the little village and adversary priest but much has changed. He now is the outcast. By the end of the story there are more changes. Reading this you can almost taste the chocolate and the sweet peaches. In many ways the story is very contemporary for it speaks of the huge influx of new people into our settled Western and Christian world and how they unsettle us. They speak differently, they dress differently, they worship differently but in the end we are all the same. A story told with skill and love and understanding...of mistaken zealousness and the seductive power of one who looks like an angel...but is a fallen angel, of how easy it is to be led down the wrong path for what seems good reason and how we don't know what we have until we carelessly let it slip away. This is a beautiful story with no easy answers. Read and enjoy.
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on 8 June 2012
...and, having read Chocolat, I never thought I'd say that, but Joanne Harris never fails to surprise her fans! I've read all her books (my particular favourite being 'Holy Fools') so I rushed to get a copy of 'Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure'. It did not disappoint---this is a wonderful piece of writing in the genre of magic-realism, filled with joie de vivre; it's sensual, evocative, thought-provoking, page-turning and compassionate, and fans of 'Chocolat' will be amazed by the new slant we get on M. Reynaud, once an antagonist, but now someone we can begin to appreciate for his better qualities. And the novel is also courageous, dealing with difficult, controversial issues of our time. Bravo, Joanne!
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on 13 July 2012
Really enjoyed this book. Harris does her best to combine East and West and their clashes, in a very respectful manner. As a Muslim, I found the book to be entertaining. A little stereotypical at times, but definately worth the read. It makes the reader fall in love with Monsieu le Cure for the first time! Really nice to find out what happened to the characters from the first book. It was like visiting old friends!
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on 26 May 2012
The tiny details illustrated in this beautifully written book absolutely make this story. Joanne Harris has the art of making a magical place come to life, and the sensual elements work perfectly. It's a charming story and whilst I was worried she was overmilking the Chocolat setting, I needn't have been concerned. This is wonderful piece of escapist writing, warm, clever and very enjoyable.

I can imagine myself reading this book again in several months' time, because there are a great many details and I'm sure that I didn't get them all first time round. Even if I did, I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable book to reread. It's not a classic but it does hit the right spot.

For good summer reads, I'd also recommend the moving and funny Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), a highly personal memoir and a very unusual book. There's also a hilarious surprise in Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys, which is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time.
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