le 24 janvier 2005
Il est difficile de nos jours de trouver des livres aussi sensibles, touchants. L'histoire se déroule dans un petit village francais de deux cent habitants. Une étrangère arrive avec sa petite fille extravagante et ouvre une chocolaterie en face de l'église à l'époque du Carême. Le curé ne le voit pas d'un bon oeil. L'auteur écrit avec le coeur l'évolution des moeurs dans ce village, la haine, la jalousie, l'envie et la méchanceté qui divisent les habitants de celui-ci. L'histoire paraît simple, elle ne l'est pourtant pas tant que ca. Après tout, ce que l'homme a dans le coeur et l'esprit est un enchevêtrement de sentiments extrêmes qu'il ignore la plupart du temps. Franchement un beau livre qu'on oubliera pas.
le 29 mars 2008
Vous vous souvenez du superbe film avec Juliette Binoche et Johnny Depp? Et bien là, ça n'a rien à voir... C'est presque mal écrit, l'histoire n'est faite que de clichés, et on s'ennuie à mourir.... Alors je n'irai pas au bout, mais je garderai en tête le film, que j'aime énormément. Dommage!
le 14 février 2001
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 that 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 that 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 releasing stress and lowering cholesterol. It's potent mixture: a benign, yet provoking stimulant that 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.