A welcome return to Lasquenet, the small town in rural France that was the setting for Joanne Harris's remarkable number one bestseller Chocolat . Vianne Rocher is called back to Lasquenet by a letter from beyond the grave...
My take: 3 looks
Not much of a summary, huh? Let me try my hand at it:
This is the third book in the Chocolat series, and brings Vianne Rocher back where she started, the town of Lasquenet. Much has changed in the 8 years she has been gone. She has another daughter, Rosette, who doesn't speak, but only makes sounds and is getting very good with magic. Teenager Anouk is starting to feel the awakenings of becoming a woman, but is still in that time where she easily straddles child and adult. These three travel back to the city where Vianne met and fell in love with Roux, Rosette's father.
But what has beckoned Vianne to return to a place where she has less than fond memories? A letter from a now-dead friend entreats her to come back...that there is trouble brewing. Trouble that only Vianne may be able to thwart.
Pretty good, huh?
There is a lot of symbolism in this series. Food is almost a character in the book, substituting for longing, unfulfilled dreams, rebirth, etc. It also serves as a commonality between several cultures, bringing people together.
The Muslim faith is a key component in the story, showing both the extreme and the peaceful sides, the older generation and the younger. I found it to be handled with honesty and not skirting around political correctness.
Characters throughout the series are given more depth and interest. You see Josephine and how she had matured and developed after getting out of her abusive relationship. You see Francis and how he has become a bit more relaxed in his attitudes of others, while still maintaining that aloofness that he thinks comes with being a priest. Anouk and Rosette are growing nicely, as we see Anouk's interest in boys develop and Rosette becoming more social.
The magical elements are not so prominent in this story, which was a good thing, in my mind. It centered more on character relationships and clashes as opposed to manipulating them to find their eventual path. While magic is still a component, it is much more relevant to the story in Chocolat and much more manipulative in The Girl with No Shadow.
All books share commonalities, but can be read as standalones. I would recommend them in order, however, so you get the full spectrum of beginning to end. There is obviously another on its way, and I look forward to reading it.