Book Review of "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris
A Unique Story Well-written
This book review is meant to be the companion to my movie review about Chocolat, starring Juliette Binoche, Judy Dench, Lena Olin, and Johnny Depp. My discussion will focus on the differences between the novel and the movie with regard to the plot and character development. There are very few differences between the two, and the variances from the book that the movie presented did not detract from my enjoyment of either. Instead, they enriched my appreciation of both.
The themes and climax of both the book and movie were the same - the town of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes enjoys a rebirth on Easter Sunday as a result of the graceful presence of the lovely Vianne Rocher and her chocolaterie, La Celeste Praline (book). In the movie the name of her shop is Chocolaterie Maya.
Joanne Harris' Author Page
- Joanne Harris: Books, Biography, Blog, etc.
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The novel Chocolat, by Joanne Harris is very well-written. The detailed description of the setting and characters invite the reader to become part of the story as it unfolds. The entire story takes place within a six-week period, that of the Catholic season of Lent. The unfolding of events in the book is slow and delicious.
Joanne Harris is an award-winning novelist with cultural ties to both France and England. She writes with authority about her subject because Vianne reflects the qualities she remembers and the stories she has been told about her great-grandmother. It will be my pleasure to find and read copies of her other novels, as well.
The characters in the book are reflected very accurately in the movie Chocolat. They are developed more deeply in the book, and having knowledge of their thoughts is important to appreciating their significance to the story.
The novel moves the reader beyond the dialogue to the thoughts of the heroine, Vianne Rocher. Her descriptions of the other characters and how they relate to her are very colorful, yet very human. Her care for and tolerance of the basic humanity of the townspeople are evident in how she sees them.
Try it in French ~
One way to learn a language is by immersion, so why not immerse yourself in French while immersing yourself in chocolate?
The other character whose thoughts are brought to light in the novel are those of Pere Reynaud, the Catholic Priest, and Pastor (Cure) of St. Jerome's Parish in the French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. He is the villain of the story, for his harsh preaching and grasping at false piety make him intolerant. He seeks to put La Celeste Praline out of business by Easter, and makes himself Vianne's enemy.
In the movie, Pere Reynaud is portrayed as the Compt de Reynaud, the Mayor of the town, and the priest is a separate character. At the end of the book, his character disappears from town. At the end of the movie, the priest preaches redemption and the Mayor is softened. Though I prefer the ending to this character's story as played out in the movie, his disappearance from the town at the end of the book had the same end result as the Mayor's epiphany - the entire town relaxed and warmed up to one another as a result of the presence of La Celest Praline , Vianne Rocher's chocolaterie. The climax of the story in both the book and the movie was the 70th birthday party in honor of Armande.
In the movie, Lena Olin's character is named Pauline. The corresponding character in the book is named Josephine. Her husband, Paul Marie Muscat, is repugnant in both the book and the movie, in the eyes of everyone in the town.
Roux, the gypsy leader, is a darker character in the book than in the movie, but he remains on the side of light and love. It is Josephine who has the long-lasting romance with Roux in the book. But he does make love to Vianne, and this results in the promise of new life. It is one of the reasons she stays in the town instead of moving on. This detail can only be known by reading the book.
Bake with chocolate ~
This recipe book can occupy an aspiring pastry chef for a year. I am about to start my adventure now.
Learn more about chocolate ~
- A Brief History of Chocolate | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian Magazine
Uncover the bittersweet story of this ancient treat and watch a VIDEO.
- Chocolate Drink of The Gods! - Hispanic Culture
Chocolate: The History part2 Chocolate! Sometimes referred to as The Food of The Gods. Many people have found an ongoing love affair with Chocolate yet have never learned the rich heritage and history that Chocolate has in this world. From the Olmec
- Chocolate Links
A group of links that lead the reader to more tantalizing information about making chocolates.
Narrative Point of View
The point of view switches between Vianne's and Reynaud's throughout the book. Their thought patterns are developed, and the conflict between how they view the world and the people of the town becomes poignant and electric.
Vianne is consistent and brings warmth and love to the town through the love she pours into making the chocolates, and the care she takes in finding the perfect candy for everyone who walks into her shop. The priest is furtive and judgmental, and enacts his own demise because of how tightly wrapped in his own mire he has become. He cannot stay to face the members of St. Jerome's parish after Vianne finds him on Easter morning in her surprise chocolate display. He does not stay celebrate mass on Easter Sunday. Yet, at 6am on Easter morning, the full carillion of Easter bells ring out a new era of redemptive love for the town, and Vianne's Easter Festival is successful.
Assorted chocolate truffles make lovely gifts for any occasion ~
Seafarer Mama's favorite chocolates
What is your chocolate threshold?
Have you reached your threshold for chocolate yet?
© 2011 Karen A Szklany