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255 Reviews
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6 of 6 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 Sep 2007 by rhinoa

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
This book is a light read. I found it unconvincing (for example how can a poor, gypsy-like single mother afford to start up a chocolate shop in a town with little custom then proceed in giving all of its entrants free food?) and unmemorable. It is entertaining...but the author fails in trying to achieve any literary status. You can tell she tried by the strange...
Published on 14 April 2001


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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chocolat, 1 July 2012
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This review is from: Chocolat (Kindle Edition)
I am usually a pretty fast reader, but I have been lingering on with this book for about a week now! It is not as good as the film! A bit tedious and repetitive at times. As one reviewer wrote, there are only so many times that chocolate can be poured in each chapter!!!! Worth reading just to conjure up the image of Johnny Depp in one's mind everytime the character of Roux crops up. Harris' other books are much better!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy people watching ? You'll love this book., 13 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
An impressive picture of village life and the people who live there. Passionate, sensitive, thought provoking & intelligent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Chocolat (Kindle Edition)
Great
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter Rubish, 2 May 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
I read this book expecting a vivid and enthralling masterpiece, the film certainly was and we all know that the book is better than the film. Well here is the exception to the rule. The scriptwriters for once were justified in compleatly stepping away from the book.
Its cynical, sad and not all that well written. There seems to be no point to it. The ending is annoying and unsatisfing and the characters are not nearly as interesting as thoughs in the film!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chocolat is good for you, 21 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
If you're caught in a bit of twix, with nothing to read, then may I suggest this excellent bounty? It is produced, not by Mars of Slough, but Joanne Harris of Barnsley, a chef who excels in the art of couverture chocolate. Step into her boutique, 'La Celeste Praline', and you'll be caught unawares by her classy wares. Chocolat is a novel of great sweetness, perfect for those who like their confictionary to be well milked. For readers with richer palates, however, Harris has also produced an intoxicating blend of dark chocolate, which is - dare we say it - extremely 'topic'al. If you're looking for a few delightful snickers, and not a lengthy marathon, then this is the novel for you. It's certainly richer and more exquisite than the most popular currency of chocolate bars.
Vianne Rocher arrives in the French village of Lansquenet during its carnival, a feast before the fast of Lent. With her is daughter Anouk (who seems to be named after a chocolate treat), and Anouk's companion, the mysterious Pantoufle. Joanne Harris tends to write a lot about alchemy in connection with cooking (see her excellent new novel, 'Blackberry Wine'), but Vianne Rocher would seem to have more than culinary skills at her disposal... This is especially apparent, though, in her delicious meeting with Armande Voizin, to which there is more than meets the eye. 'Pantoufle' refers to Charles Perrault's fairy tale of Cinderella, and as such, could be a subtle hint as to Vianne's true identity... It would seem appropriate here to compare Harris' work with that of Kate Atkinson, especially with regards to her new book, Emotionally Weird. Atkinson says that she has been trying to write a fiction with all the richness of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. But it seems to me that Joanne Harris is more adept at writing fairy tales - her characterisation is stronger, certainly. Whilst Atkinson plays with words, Harris plays with thoughts and emotions. Chocolat is full of magic and fairy tales, from the realisation of a true Gingerbread house, to Vianne's use of Pagan cards and charms.
It is holy appropriate then, that the conflict and drama within this novel stems from the masculine Church's opposition to Vianne Rocher and her culinary work. It even seems that that Joanne Harris could be engaging on a narrative in which God the Father and Mother Earth are the main combatants, featuring their eternal struggle as man and wife. Father Reynaud is the country priest who sees danger in Vianne's shop, and the novel is narrated in the first person by both of these antagonists. Reynaud relates his tale to the mysterious pere, whilst Vianne muses greatly on her long lost mother, with both 'parent' appearing to be flawed in some way. However, this struggle between the masculine and the feminine does not become too abstract, since Josephine Muscat has to bear the bruises in her role as battered wife. Chocolat has its fair share of romance, but also contains a swift punch of brutal reality.
Like Blackberry Wine, Joanne Harris has decided to serve some home truths, along with the after dinner mints. The novel deals with thorny issue of immigration, currently a hot potato in Britain, and the problems of a population which is growing ever older. The Pope's recent apologies for the crimes of Roman Catholicism also resound within. These issues may be set in the exotic French countryside, but they still have relevance to us. Okay, so the richness of the carnivalesque and the mystique of magic realism have been added to the mixture, but their presence only serves to add depth, and never confusion. Vianne has a reluctance to see her fate in the stars, but this novel has won near universal admiration and is soon to be made into a film. It's a fiction which works on so many different layers, but like a particularly rich cake, there is something within it for everyone. The author uses simple words in her prose, but the combination of these coarse ingredients is explosive. Harris certainly knows how to play on our heartstrings, to make us feel for her characters.
Current medical advice would certainly indicate that Chocolat could play a powerful part in reducing stress and lowering cholesterol. It's potent mixture: a benign, yet provoking stimulant which melts on the tongue. As for its aphrodisiac qualities, well, I can hardly say... But the only disappointment to be had from Chocolat is that it has to end.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skip the movie, read the book., 21 May 2004
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This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
In Chocolat, Joanne Harris writes the story of the small town of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes through the eyes of two of its inhabitants. No two people could be more different than Vianne Rocher, a "traveller" with her daughter moving from one city to the next to set up her chocolate shop; and the town's priest, Reynaud, born and raised in the village, devout Christian and a serious practitioner of Lent.
Opening a chocolate shop right during Lent, when people should be living soberly and eating modestly, is not exactly welcomed in the small town. Especially since Monseigneur Reynaud has taken it upon himself to save this town from sin, every way he can. But slowly, the curious villagers can't stop themselves from becoming intrigued with this shop of delicacies
And apart from her gift for making the finest chocolates, Vianne had another magical gift: to see the inner most worries and wishes of the people she meets. And find the perfect chocolate to match. And her chocolates not being ordinary chocolates, that often makes the start of a change in the lives of her customers.
Reynaud is struggling with himself to be more and more sober in this time of Lent, to give the right example to his parishioners, to stamp out sin. He can find odd pleasure in making people follow the rules.
Both Vianne and Reynaud have the best intentions for the villagers, but each takes a very different approach. The "I" form of both narratives sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish between the two main characters, which adds to the understanding that they are, however different, in some ways the same. (Usually it doesn't take more than a paragraph to find out who's speaking, they are such opposites!)
I loved how the story describes the will of the individual to change your life. The smell of chocolate runs through your nose as you are reading. Even if you don't like chocolate, Vianne will find a way to make it irresistible for you. Reynaud will make you look at yourself and wonder how you punish yourself.
A must-read. Skip the movie, read the book.
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25 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible writing, 5 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Other people have mentioned, at length, the ludicrous plot and anachronistic view of rural France (it wasn't until half way through the book that I actually had to force myself to accept that this was supposed to be set in the present). One additional literary crime perpetrated by Ms Harris is the prose itself which is some of the worst I have read since I gave up on Virginia Andrews' books at the age of 12. One of the things I found most irritating was the fact that she continually made her protagonist describe herself in the way that a third person narrator or another character would. This is obviously because the author is attempting to simulaneously provide the reader-identification possible with first person narratives and the descripive gratification of third person narratives ("I looked like this...X thought I was behaving like that"). This makes for truly horrible prose. I know this isn't supposed to be great literature but that's still no excuse.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange.........., 14 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Chocolat is the most peculiar book I have ever read. Sometimes I hated it. Others I thought it was wonderful. As one reviewer said, unreality is part of the magical feel the novel has. It is, really, rather far-fetched and this annoyed me a bit. The story is not exactly a work of genius but very cleverly woven and bittersweet. It has been called "humorous" and "feel-good" but I actually found it appallingly sad and almost disturbing. The characters are a bit carbon-copied and a lot of them are very annoying (if Armande had gone "wheee" one more time, I would have screamed), although the scenes between Vianne and Anouk are very touching. I wouldn't call Chocolat a battle between good and evil. I'm not particularly religious, but I can understand Reynaud's point of view. He hasn't really got any redeeming features (being extremely spiteful and self-opinionated), but he's obviously got some deep psychological problem and I felt desperately sorry for him and wished he and Vianne could have "made up" or something. Buy this book, whatever people say. It realy is worth it. I'm not saying I love it, but I don't hate it, either.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original but sickly, 5 Oct 2002
By 
S. Rodriguez Tryhorn (Torremolinos, Malaga Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
As I couldn't see the film I bought the book. At first it was quite interesting and I was full of curiosity to see what came of the tug-o-war between the liberal newcomer and the old fashioned priest. But nothing did. The descriptions of food are way too sickly and the ending left me totally dissatisfied. I also kept telling myself that it MUST be France in the fifties or sixties because all social views and religious stances seem SO stale and like those in my mothers or grandmothers youth (I am 28 and Catholic educated).Then I read that the author's grandmother was French so now I know why, if it is her recollections she is using. Auspicious beginings and disapointing end.
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11 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars why oh why did this book get published?, 25 July 2001
This review is from: Chocolat (Paperback)
Although there were already 95 reviews when i posted this so i'm sure i'm not saying anything new or interesting i just had to get this off my chest. This book is terrible. The style is pathetically forced and devoid of any merit. It parades itself as an intelligent book with meaning but it's meaning is so clumsily and blatantly conveyed that I could only be bothered to finish reading it out of a sense of duty... I actually found myself cursing Joanne Harris just for having written this pretentious drivel.
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Chocolat
Chocolat by Joanne Harris (Paperback - 4 Mar 1999)
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