I’ve had this book on my shelf forEVER and finally got around to reading it. I’m glad I did.
Chocolat is about a young unmarried mother named Vianne Rocher who comes to a small French town during Lent and opens a gourmet chocolate shop. Her and her daughter have been drifters for years and are finally feeling the desire to settle in one place. The parish curate, Francis Reynaud, takes an almost immediate dislike to her when he learns that she is not religious. Vianne immediately starts attracting the attention of the townspeople and slowly works her way into many of their lives. Vianne has some magical powers it seems, though she rarely admits it even to herself.
The novel alternates between the POVs of Vianne and Reynaud. Vianne is trying desperately to evade what her and her late mother referred to as “the Black Man” and settle down, for the sake of her daughter Anouk. She doesn’t necessarily want a conflict with Reynaud, but refuses to back down from her beliefs. Reynaud is a bitter religious man – he is outraged that Vianne flaunts her chocolate during Lent, and believes that she is leading his flock astray. He preaches against her every Sunday, and tries to run her out of town.
Overall, the story here is very subtle – Vianne slowly helps change the life of the townspeople. She’s kind of like an adult version of Nanny McPhee – she showed up there because the people needed her and her chocolate to help them rediscover themselves and their passion. The writing was really beautiful – it felt luxurious just to be reading it. And for me, some of the most interesting parts were Reynaud – he seemed really insane to me, and I enjoyed disliking him. And for those of you wondering – I haven’t seen the movie version of this book. I want to though, because the movie cover of the book (seen above) makes it seem like a love story, which it isn’t.
Also, this book makes me want to sit around and drink chocolate coffee and eat chocolate candies.
Sarah Says: 3.5 stars