Saturday, November 21, 2009
Book Review: Chocolat
I have been meaning to read this book by Joanne Harris for, oh, 10 years, and at long last I picked it up at the library. I was prepared to be wowed. I was, instead, woefully underwowed.
So the story, for the other dozen people out there who haven't read this NY Times bestseller or watched the movie, centers on a sleepy town in France that comes awake when Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk come to town and open up a store that specializes in all kinds of chocolate delicacies. The conflict overriding the story is between Vianne, who is somewhat of a psychic, and Reynaud, the town's priest.
As I said, I really wanted to like this book. But ultimately, it fell flat for me. The characters seemed like ones I've seen in other books dozens of times: the kind old rebellious woman and her busybody, rich daughter. The stuttering boy and his overprotective mother. The priest with the secret past. The important man in town who beats his wife. The gypsies, who aren't really thieves but who are persecuted by the townspeople nonetheless.
Harris's writing is nice, although often a bit too flowery for my taste. I understand that the writing reflects the richness of the chocolate, but it was a little much for me at times. I began to crave Hemingway-esque simplicity.
And, strangely, I never craved chocolate throughout the whole book.
I am going to watch the movie. I have a feeling this might be one of the very few times I like the movie more than the book.