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THE STRAWBERRY THIEF
BY JOANNE HARRIS
Joanne Harris takes us back to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes and the magical world of Chocolat in her latest novel The Strawberry Thief. Just like the changing winds which become integral to its story-telling, Harris's writing ebbs and flows with exquisite rhythm as you are beautifully swept away into the forthcoming turbulence.
The sleepy village is awoken, when Narcisse, the local florist, unexpectedly dies, leaving behind a confession to the local priest and a plot of land to Rosette, the youngest and 'special' daughter of Madame Vianne Rocher, rather than to his own family. Madame Rocher runs the village chocolate shop whilst Rosette entertains herself by drawing and running wild with her own individual way of communication. The arrival of Morgane Dubois, who sets up a mysterious business in Narcisse’s old shop opposite Vianne’s Chocolaterie, also stands to threaten the equilibrium she has worked so hard to achieve. All this takes place over Lent when temptation is rife.
As with all Harris’s writing, nature and the wind are integral to the story. “The wind doesn’t care. The wind doesn’t judge. The wind will take whatever it can - whatever it needs – instinctively.” Both Vianne and Rosette are able to summon the wind when the going gets tough.
The writing is intuitive and poetic as the characters confront their demons. Harris poignantly explores the letting go of her children as they grow up and leave the nest intertwined with her love of magic and the supernatural. All this is set against the backdrop of our senses, whether it be the bewitching artistry behind tattoos or the creation of exotic, mouth-watering chocolates.
Even though not everyone in the Den had read the other books in this, the fourth in the series, we all still relished this story. It stands beautifully on its own and we are sure if you never read Chocolat twenty years ago, you will do so now.
Den recommendation - well worth watching the famous film adaptation of Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp which doesn’t disappoint.
- for people who love books -