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Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris

We’re finally there – the last of my Chocolat posts!  Recently, I read the third and final installment, Peaches for Father Francis.

I have to admit that while a good story, after The Girl With No Shadow, Peaches was a bit of a disappointment.  This is not to take away from Peaches at all – it’s just that the book that came before it was so fantastic, I was left with (maybe unrealistically) high expectations.  The third story takes place back in the small village of Lansquenet and opens with a letter from a (now dead) character from the first book asking Vianne and her family to return.  They do, only to find that quite a bit has changed – most notably, there has been an influx of Muslims to the small town, resulting in some tension.  Vianne and her once-nemesis, Pere Reynaud, form a tentative friendship as they try to bring, if not tolerance, at least some acceptance to the divided village.  It seems like the Muslim-as-the-scary-outsider-who-really-is-just-like-you-and-me is a trendy topic for books nowadays, but Harris handles it well.  She writes with an honest voice – the villagers, new and old, are different.  But she writes in a way that addresses the value of those differences in a way that isn’t cheesy or preachy – which I appreciate!

Again, Harris’s strength is in her relatable and well-developed characters.  And the addition of new characters has freshened up Lansquenet in the view of this reader – there are still the same quirky personalities as before, and now there are even more to appreciate.

Frankly, the third book is not what the second was – but it’s still a good read, and it was delightful to venture back to the village of Lansquenet and see it modernized, but still cozy.  I recommend this book and give it three and a half stars.

★★★ 1/2

– Becca

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