Back in January I read the sequel to Chocolat; (you know the movie with Johnny Depp? well it was based on a book) The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris and it’s the three of them that make up one of the best trilogies I’ve read.. maybe ever. It’s up there with The Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings but for completely different reasons. Joanne Harris has a way of writing that just sucks you in, envelops you in Vianne’s world. Every single on of her books i’ve picked up, i’ve read it cover to cover in such a short space of time. Even Peaches for Monsieur le Cure (or Peaches for Father Francis as it’s published in the US), on the surface it’s not a book I’d be interested in because it deals with religion even deeper than her previous two books, and not just one religion, but two. Since i’m not religious I do struggle to grasp certain concepts and beliefs, even in a novel but with any of Harris’ books it doesn’t even phase me.
So the third installment is set a further four years after The Lollipop Shoes and Vianne is heading back to Lansquenet with both her daughters. Lots has changed but some things haven’t and Vianne has to figure out why she came back and what she still has to do. The book tackles men Vs women, Christianity Vs Islam, old vs young.. so many questions and twists kept me page turning. As I mentioned before I don’t usually deal well with religion in novels but the characters were so beautiful created and their individual stories so well played out that I just had to know what happened. The novel switched between the narrative of Vianne and Francis Reynaud. Like with Harris’ previous novels I didn’t find this at all difficult to follow, in fact I love the switch of perspective between two very different characters with their own view of the world, especially in regards to religion. And what I liked most was the fact that I believe the characters to be real. I wanted to live in that world, that village.
The only thing I disliked about the book is that I knew at the end I had to say goodbye. It’s how I felt when I read the final Harry Potter novel.. I needed all the characters to have closure so I could move on with my life. Luckily, Joanne Harris is such an accomplished novelist I felt that exactly this happened. I felt such a nice feeling of satisfaction as I read the final few pages (and of course, shed a few tears).
My favourite quote is;
“Some people spend the whole of their lives sitting waiting for one train, only to find that they never even made it to the station.”
Oh, what a great metaphor for life. I have come to the conclusion that I tend to be one of these people who wishes for something more but never does anything about it. Once all the rubbish is out of the way I plan to be more proactive about life. Books always make me have epiphanies, that’s why everyone should read.
If you haven’t already read the Chocolat trilogy, I urge you to. You can pick up the first two books pretty cheap in charity shops (that’s where I got them) and the third is newly released on paperback but it’s worth the money, I can assure you.