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3.0 out of 5 stars fascinating ideas but too much harry potter trickery for me..., 13 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Lollipop Shoes (Chocolat 2) (Paperback)

I loved the main plot and marvelled at the audacity of the author to delve into extreme such dark materials as identity theft. I was fascinated by Zozie's psychology and "philosophy", this made it possible I think for the author to allow for sharp observation of people, even if of course it was mostly on the cynical side of things. I don't know for others but for me it allowed some fresh air in which to breathe in brutally honest analysis of people's motives sometimes, for example when she see through Thierry and does not fool herself into thinking "ah all is well". I loved how she / the author said that we see what we want to see and believe etc.

At the same time naturally, I waited anxiously for her mask to fall and Vianne and Anouk to wake up at last and throw her out...

But then when it happened the whole story collapsed flat, in my opinion. When before there was tension held by the contrast of a darkly plotting and manipulative person and the naivity of most people around her and one was waiting for each person to wake up, now she is revealed and the boldness of the story which I loved throughout descends into good-Christian-well-meaning-"kindness", with flavours and smells of Mexican magic.
Which is another thing. The tricks: finger signs, role-play characters sounding names such as "Lady Moon" etc, charms and cantrips bored me very soon. I felt I was watching a cartoon of evil vs good manga battle. I read Chocolat and loved all the paganism and magic in it but this was something else, and it didn't spellbound me.

The smile of Anouk at the end, making a farce of the otherwise dangerous drama unfolding, did it for me. ...why did Joanne Harris need to descend into such gooey cliches?
Are we to be inspired by the kindness and compassion/pity described here? I felt it was well-adjusted morality, not real kindness at all.

One last point, I am French and the culinary Christmas traditions aren't French at all (orange and cinnamon, cloves stuck in dried oranges, we don't do Indian spices much in France..), but very ex colonial British instead. And things like "I washed her school clothes" don't make any sense as there aren't any school uniform or school clothes in France. Has Joanne Harris ever lived in France? And also suppressed anger as in the case of Vianne is not a French trait either. For the worst thing someone can be accused of in France is to repress, suppress or hide their true thinking about you or inner emotions, those people are not to be trusted and the French will often start a statement (which here would be described as "brutal honesty" or even "confrontation" or "argument") by saying "I am frank, I say what I think...". of course, expect a tirade of harsh criticism after that.
So as a French person the agile little dances to avoid at any cost - between lovers, mother and daughter, between school friends - true emotion expression / mood-sharing made me almost cringe. How very British. Once again we French love a good emotion-packed argument!
Another detail springs to mind, Anouk grabbing her dinner and running into her bdroom to eat it. Terrorism! Not in France! ok maybe things are changing fast and families disintegrating with the US/Western wave everywhere now but really, eating and sharing dinner is crucial, vital, and natural for a mother and her child on the continent. Especially that Anouk is supposed to be...12? around that age anyway, not 16 years old and nearly independent.

However overall I was hooked and read the book late every night. I loved the plot, the psychology, the minds speaking aloud, loved the chocolate-making/cooking descriptions, the pinning down of smells, the associations of moods with colours. Loved this world of synesthesia. But I felt let down at the end with British/Hollywood Good triumphing over Evil.It didn't sound like real human drama to me.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Dec 2012 15:23:10 GMT
Let's hope all French readers aren't so given to cliche and stereotyping as this. The characters aren't French enough, because they're not confrontational and value kindness? Ridiculous.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Dec 2012 20:33:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Dec 2012 20:47:45 GMT
Le Tigre says:
you didn't understand me. REAL kindness, the book's ending read as superior morality. Yes French/Italian/Croatians etc you name it, we prefer people and stories with more likeliness, not Hollyhood-style cliche endings of simulated kindness. I am half French half Eastern European. People over the continent speak frankly especially with close ones, don't dance about round personal issues, and enjoy "arguments", seen as healthy exchange of ideas, where here the words "confrontation" and "fight" or even ridiculous terms such as "opiniated" (my favourite one) apply. Czceck love to debate, French too, Spanish too, go order coffee or drive in Italy and you'll be confronted !

Confrontation is only a British concept, nowhere else on the continent does the idea exists. European cultures speak of honesty and self expression or freedom of speech but in the UK it is frown upon and described as aggression. Then repressed feelings become violence soon enough given the right mix of circumstances...and then it is blamed on alcohol.

that book had quite a few cliches on French culture...the French response to the book and film isn't the same one in the UK. Loving food isn't an exotic indulgence, it s a healthy part of life.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Dec 2012 10:13:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Dec 2012 08:59:48 GMT
Confrontation is only a British concept, and doesn't exist elsewhere? Seriously? Of course, you're entitled to your opinion, but Joanne Harris is also half French, and clearly sees France a little differently. Her opinion is equally valid.
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