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Chocolat

Updated on January 27, 2014

What's so special about Chocolat?

Once upon a time I was in this peculiar moment of my life, when I decided to change my address to one in another country. This meant reducing all of my belongings to one suitcase, 30 kg weight, which was a maximum allowed on a cheap airline flight. There was only one book that I rated important enough to pack in this suitcase, and this book was Joanne Harris's Chocolat.

The book is... tasty, to say the least. Harris has this distinctive, sensual style of writing that somehow makes your mouth water. There's rural French background, there are witches of every age, there are river gypsies, ghosts of the past and whole piles of - surprise, surprise! - chocolate. Story itself is charming, dynamic, and, contrary to expectations, not too sweet (which means a happy end that does not make you puke).

All the above wouldn't be sufficient to make me put any book into my lonely suitcase, but Chocolat is more than a story. It's an encouragement. It tells you that magic works. And you don't need a fairy castle - all it takes is an old bakery, a good idea and a lot of soap.

Five years have passed since my big move, many books came my way and went off to the world again, but Chocolat still faithfully graces my shelf. When the world is a grey place, Chocolat is my answer and I hope that it might be yours too.

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An ultimate proof that magic exists

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More books by Joanne Harris - Vote for your favorites, or add any I missed.

Sleep, Pale Sister
Sleep, Pale Sister

Before the sweet delight of Chocolat, before the heady concoction that is Blackberry Wine, and before the tart pleasures of Five Quarters of the Orange, bestselling author Joanne Harris wrote Sleep, Pale Sister -- a gothic tourde-force that recalls the powerfully dark sensibility of her novel Holy Fools. Originally published in 1994 -- and never before available in the United States -- Sleep, Pale Sister is a hypnotically atmospheric story set in nineteenth century London. When puritanical artist Henry Chester sees delicate child beauty Effie, he makes her his favorite model and, before long, his bride. But Henry, volatile and repressed, is in love with an ideal. Passive, docile, and asexual, the woman he projects onto Effie is far from the woman she really is. And when Effie begins to discover the murderous depths of Henry's hypocrisy, her latent passion will rise to the surface. Sleep, Pale Sister combines the ethereal beauty of a Pre-Raphaelite painting with a chilling high gothic tale and is a testament to Harris's brimming cornucopia of talents. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

 
My French Kitchen: A Book of 120 Treasured Recipes
My French Kitchen: A Book of 120 Treasured Recipes

In My French Kitchen bestselling author Joanne Harris, along with acclaimed food writer Fran Warde, shares her treasured collection of family recipes that has been passed down from generation to generation. All the classics are here: Quiche Lorraine, Moules Marinière, Coq au Vin, and Crème Brûlée, plus an entire chapter devoted to French chocolate, including cakes, meringues, and spiced hot chocolate.

 
The Girl with No Shadow
The Girl with No Shadow

The wind has always dictated Vianne Rocher's every move, buffeting her from the French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes to the crowded streets of Paris. Cloaked in a new identity, that of widow Yanne Charbonneau, she opens a chocolaterie on a small Montmartre street, determined to still the wind at last and keep her daughters, Anouk and baby Rosette, safe. But the weather vane soon turns, and Zozie de l'Alba blows into their lives. Charming and enigmatic, Zozie provides the brightness that Yanne's life needsâas her vivacity and bold lollipop shoes dazzle rebellious and impressionable preadolescent Anouk. But beneath their new friend's benevolent façade lies a ruthless treacheryâfor devious, seductive Zozie has plans that will shake their world to pieces.

 

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