Monday 10 June 2019

Summer Read ~ The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

4 April 2019
Chocolat #4

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her 'special' child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse's relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder.

My thoughts..

Once again Vianne Rocher plays a pivotal role in the story, however, in The Strawberry Thief we start to learn much more about her 'special' child, Rosette, who is now sixteen. With the woodlands and fields around Lansquenet-sous-Tannes her playground, Rosette develops a rapport with Narcisse, the taciturn florist, who facing the end of his life has secrets he needs to reveal.

Those who are familiar with this series will take great delight in seeing the return of old friends, particularly, Francis Reynaud, the priest, who continues his watchful eye over the villagers, and the enticing smell of rich dark chocolat infuses the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with its own special blend of magic. There's always a sense of mystery not just from the characters who each have their own little moments but also in the way their stories weave and flutter, revealing secrets and creating a story which lingers even as the wind threatens to blow it all away.

Throughout the story I had a sense of the author, maybe, tying up a few loose ends and I was a little afraid that perhaps this would be the last of the chocolat stories but there's a lovely ending to the novel which could blend very nicely into a continuation - I really hope so, as I would miss this little corner of rural France and the characters who, over twenty years, have had such a special place in my heart.

Returning to the sleepy village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes is a long awaited treat and having been a huge fan of this series and of this author's writing, I knew from the very start of The Strawberry Thief that I wasn't going to be let down. It's pure chocolat infused magic from start to finish.

I listened to The Strawberry Thief as an Audible recording, which was beautifully narrated by the author, Joanne Harris, over 10 hours and 23 minutes. I loved listening to the author's interpretation of her words which gave the book a really personal feel as I felt that she was reading, and occasionally singing, just for me 😊

JOANNE HARRIS is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

Twitter @joannechoclat #TheStrawberyThief


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