When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock, especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. War is declared as the priest denounces the newcomer's wares as the ultimate sin.
Suddenly Vianne's shop-cum-cafe means that there is somewhere for secrets to be whispered, grievances to be aired, dreams to be tested. But Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community in a conflict that escalates into a "Church not Chocolate" battle. As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate eclair?
For the first time here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance. Rich, clever, and mischievious, Chocolat is a literary feast for all senses.
©1999 Joanne Harris; (P)2006 BBC Audiobooks Ltd.
"A celebration of pleasure, of love, of tolerance." (Observer)
I found this audio book to be absolutely wonderful, it is well read and the story is a classic french tale. I found myself really loving the characters and felt for them in their decisions through out the book. I now sometimes use this book to help me get to sleep, not because it is boring, far from it!! It is so soothing to listen to that on a lovely sunny day lying on my bed I can't help but get carried along with the story. I highly recommend it.
The most enjoyable book I've listened to. Beautifully read - in an exceptionally 'visual' way. I can't recommend this one enough.
I saw the movie _Chocolat_ a number of years ago, and enjoyed it very much, so I was very pleased to find out that it was actually a novel. I wasn`t disappointed.
Joanne Harris has written a satisfying tale that hits the mark for me on almost every front. I enjoyed the plot -- which has a nice balance of humour and pathos -- and found myself intrigued by the characters, even the puritanical priest Reynaud who serves as the foil for the free-spirited Vianne Rocher. The supporting characters, mostly villagers, are well drawn and add dimension to the story. And, of course, Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful narrator who really seems to capture the spirit of the book in her reading. (I`m always amazed at her versatility in portraying characters. She seems equally able to convey a rough `river gypsy` to a priggish matron.)
The only false note for me in the entire book is the modern day setting. The white-gloved and hatted coterie of village wives, the priest`s appalled reaction to Vianne`s loose hair, and so on, just don`t seem to fit in a context of nose rings (sported by one of the river folk) and t-shirts. The rigid social norms would, I suspect, fit better if the book was set earlier -- in the thirties to fifties perhaps.
That having been said, it was a satisfying book to listen to, and made for a pleasant summer interlude.
A wonderful story with a thread of magic running through it.
"Better than chocolate"
I had already seen the film, but thought the book was much better. In contrast to another reviewer who thought she should have listened to the abridged version, I found every word of this interesting and would not have known which words could be cut out to abridge it without losing any of the gentle humour and pathos.
Beautifully read, a real joy to listen to.
I think I gain more from listening as then, you don't skim or speed-read!
"CHOCOLAT - a wonderful magical story"
This is such a great book - as a previous reviewer said - much better than the film which tries to tie everything up too conveniently. Juliet Stevenson once again excels in her reading, making each character unique. Her reading makes all the descriptions come alive - and I would not want to opt for the abridged version and miss all this richness.
"If you liked the film ..."
... you'll love the book - it's so much more logical! The priest makes life as difficult as possible for Vianne and her daughter, the book explores his issues with her lifestyle.
"So Much More Than the Movie!!"
One of the best audiobooks that I've listened to. Juliet Stevenson's narration is excellent. Chocolat is a beautifully written, gently provocative and unpredictable tale that portrays society and the human condition at its best and its worst. A fantastic audiobook all round which I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.
I've listened to Juliet Stevenson's narration of Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility. Her narration of these Classics is superb - as is her narration of Chocolat. Ms Stevenson brings all characters to life with ease. Her voice is extremely easy on the ear and she narrates with sensitivity and vitality, bringing the books to life in such a way that one's attention is totally focused on her telling of the tale, and before you know it, hours have gone by and the end of the book is nigh.
Chocolat is a very thought provoking tale. Joanna Harris brings the sights, sounds and smells of the town to one's imagination with vivid detail. The characters in the book and their interaction with each other is fascinating. In Chocolat, Joanna Harrris raises social and moral issues with sensitivity, compassion, outrage and humour. She effortlessly weaves these ethical issues into her narrative in such a way that the many facets and perspectives of such ethics are portrayed so as to present as many questions to the reader as she provides answers. For example, is stealing really immoral when it is actually a response to a greater social/moral wrong? Can stealing be seen as a cry for help or as an act of sheer desperation to control one's own life? I felt wide-ranging emotions listening to this book - joy, anger, compassion, empathy, dislike, mistrust and defiance to name but a few. This book will make you think of your own prejudices and moral stance to many things, but Chocolat is so well written that you won't realise you've done so until the book has finished and your still thinking about things days after the end.
Trying not to overdo it, this story was smooth and delicious to listen to. The storytelling got you dreaming of chocolate and with the magic the author brought into the story, it got you day dreaming of what else chocolate could achieve! The story telling was soft and gentle and this could be perfect for sitting out in garden on a summer evening to relax to. I would certainly listen to Chocolate again.
There is such a mix of characters in this story that there is no one favorite character
Haven't listened to any other performances but will certainly be looking out for them.
The beginning of the book where the main character and daughter arrived in the small town. There was such a mystery about the town and main character that you wanted to learn more.
"Better than the movie"
This is a wonderful tale that is well presented and well read
Though slow moving at times the story keeps you hooked as to what will happen next
I loved the way Juliet performed all the characters, especial Anouk
If you didn't love chocolat before...
"as enjoyable as a box of your favourite chocolates"
I really do enjoy Joanne Harris books. Love the way you leave reality behind and gently step into a world that is full of enchantment dusting the everyday lives of characters you can really imagine knowing in real life.
Chocolat is the start of a special journey if it happens to be the first of her books you read,enjoy the ride.
"Different from the film but just as good"
A real feel-good listen. The story of how change comes to a suffocating and static village in rural France.
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