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Tag Archives: France

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

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I’m behind on reporting back about my Christmas book finds, but here’s another one.

I’m a first year high school English teacher and my department has a wonderful tradition for a holiday party – a book exchange.  Each English teacher (and total book nerd) brings an old or new favorite wrapped book, and then the stealing begins.  This year, I ended up with Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris, which is the 3rd book in the Chocolat series.  I had no idea it even was a series, so of course, I knew I had to buy and read the two books preceding it.  I’m so glad I did.

I began with Chocolat – the first, and arguably most popular of the three.  The movie is good, but the book is absolutely enchanting.  You know the type of book that you just want to crawl inside and stay awhile?  This is one of those books!  The plot is not entirely memorable – strange woman and her daughter move to a town where nothing is “strange” and open a chocolaterie.  Some people love them, several people don’t, but they are successful nonetheless.  This isn’t the type of book you read for the events in the plot, though.  You read it for the well developed, quirky characters who you can always recognize as people from your own acquaintance.  You read it for the small, quaint French town that makes you want to move to some remote village immediately and spend your days gossiping and drinking chocolat in a terraced cafe.  I loved reading this book, and I think you will too.  Just remember to have lots of great chocolate on hand – you’ll need it!

I give this book 4 stars.  And stay tuned.  I also read the second and third books and was equally enchanted (though in different ways) by them.  ★★★★

– Becca