[Review] Chocolat – Joanne Harris

Title: Chocolat
Author: Joanne Harris
Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism
Published: 2000
My rating: ★★★

The small village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes is shaken by the arrival of Vianne Rocher and her young daughter. The parish priest especially doesn’t take kindly to the opening of her chocolate shop and the influence she has on his flock. 


Frankly, I’m miffed. I was prepared to give this novel five stars. I loved the voice, the vivid descriptions, the magical realism. I ate a ton of chocolate while reading (wait, that’s nothing unusual) and looked up nearby chocolatiers I could window shop at because dayum that stuff is expensive.

The rating took a dip when I couldn’t really tell where she was going with the plot. Also, I never had a clear sense of what time period we were in. I immediately assumed early 1900s because the people are so conservative and backwards. It has an old-timey, magical quality to it, perhaps because it’s set in an old French village. But then there are glimpses of satellites and wide screen TVs that flung me out of the novel.

I didn’t like that it was set in modern day, but I was prepared to overlook it. Like I said, the writing exudes a magical charm that I loved.

Then I reached the end.

Now, I’ve never watched the movie adaptation in its entirety. I’ve only seen glimpses of it when I was a kid. I assumed it was a romance. In contrast, the novel didn’t feel like a romance. I’m fine with that. Romance is icky and Chocolat explores so many other issues. Roux, the kind-of love interest plays a smaller part than I had anticipated. He was certainly not Johnny Depp dreamy. BUT *spoiler alert* he and Vianne do have the sex towards the end AND he unknowingly gets her pregnant AND he ends up with another woman.

. . .

Miffed. So miffed.

I feel the sting of betrayal even if Vianne wanted it this way. Call me old-fashioned, but he should at least know he has a kid. He has a right. If he had upped and left like the gypsy he is, I would’ve been fine with it. But he falls for another woman. Vianne knows this and sleeps with him anyway. Then, like the gypsy she is, she decides that she’s ready to move on to another city or country or wherever the hell the wind takes her.

When I was putting the book back on the shelf, I accidentally dropped it. And you know what? I left it where it fell. Maybe that’s a bit spiteful, but by golly, it pissed me off.

It’s so sad when an ending turns you off of the entire book. I mean, I really thought we had something good going.