The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Chocolat (reviewed here) a few years ago, but didn’t get around to reading the sequels until now when I was in the mood for some escapism and decided to return to the delicious world of Vianne Rocher.

The story switches between three different narrators, Vianne (now going by the name of Yanne Charbonneau), her eldest daughter Anouk and a mysterious identity thief, calling herself Zozie, who wears the titular lollipop shoes.

Vianne and her daughters, eleven year old Anouk and four year old Rosette live in Paris, where Vianne runs a chocolaterie. Cautious and fearful, Vianne is a shadow of her former self, she and her daughters live like fugitives trying hard to fit in and trying to avoid drawing any attention to themselves, with the chocolaterie barely breaking even until Zozie arrives.

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While Chocolat took place between Lent and Easter, The Lollipop Shoes is set between Halloween and Christmas about four years later. The almost diary-style way the series is written adds suspense as the story counts down day by day to the inevitable, thrilling conclusion.

I love the supernatural elements of the story, the references to the wind that seems to push and pull Vianne from place to place, the tarot and charms, and the little spells (or cantrips) the witches cast.

Every bit as enjoyable as Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes is an enchanting and sinister tale of secrets, temptation and revenge, mothers and daughters, friends and bullies, witchcraft and, of course, chocolate. Have a lovely week. X

Review of ‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris

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Chocolat had been sitting unread on my bookshelves for more years than I can count, but last weekend on a whim I settled down to read it while nibbling pieces of chocolate Easter eggs, which seemed wholly appropriate as the story takes places between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday.

Chocolat follows Vianne Rocher and her daughter who sweep in on the winds of a carnival bringing flavour and colour to the drab and parochial French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes.

The novel is written in the first person, but switches between Vianne and Francis Reynaud, the village priest who takes umbrage when Vianne opens a Chocolaterie on the first day of Lent. The pace of Chocolat is meandering, yet the antagonism between Vianne and Reynaud builds suspense and drives the story on to its inevitable conclusion.

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The village of Lansquenet itself is rife with secrets, gossip and simmering tensions but Vianne finds friends among the other village outcasts and rebels, their kindness and camaraderie in stark contrast with Reynaud and his cronies’ hypocrisy and meddling.

Chocolat is a story that doesn’t reveal its secrets too quickly and kept me wondering right up to the end. I really enjoyed the supernatural elements of the story, there is magic in Chocolat, yet it is always understated and never becomes too fantastical.

The descriptions of Vianne’s chocolate creations are unsurprisingly mouth-watering and Chocolat was a delightful story that left me hungry for more. Have a lovely week.