0

One From the Archive: ‘The Lollipop Shoes’ by Joanne Harris ****

First published in May 2014.

I have been meaning to read The Lollipop Shoes ever since I finished Chocolat, and I am unsure as to why it has taken me about two and a half years to begin it.  I hoped that it wouldn’t be disappointing, as sequels so often seem to be.  I was a little skeptical, as the last couple of Joanne Harris books which I have read haven’t been as good as I was expecting either.  The premise of the novel is intriguing: 

“Who died?” I said, “or is it a secret?”
“My mother, Vianne Rocher.”

Seeking refuge and anonymity in the cobbled streets of Montmartre, Yanne and her daughters, Rosette and Annie, live peacefully, if not happily, above their little chocolate shop.  Nothing unusual marks them out; no red sachets hang by the door.  The wind has stopped – at least for a while.  Then into their lives blows Zozie de l’Alba, the lady with the lollipop shoes, and everything begins to change…  But this new friendship is not what it seems.  Ruthless, devious and seductive, Zozie de l’Alba has plans of her own – plans that will shake their world to pieces.  And with everything she loves at stake, Yanne must face a difficult choice; to flee, as she has done so many times before, or to confront her most dangerous enemy…  herself.”

The book is told from the perspectives of Zozie, Yanne (the Vianne Rocher of Chocolat), and her daughter, Annie (Anouk).  Subsequent chapters are told in their voices, all of which are differentiated from one another.  This technique enables Harris to build up the whole seamlessly, allowing the reader to see the same event from different perspectives.

Zozie is an interesting character construct – she has taken over many identities in her life, choosing them from those who have passed away.  In this manner, she finds it easier to do such things as to open credit accounts and rent apartments in their names.  She dresses as she believes each individual would, and is therefore vividly colourful and rather quirky in her outfit choices.  Annie is a marvellous young protagonist, and is certainly my favourite character in the novel.  I even found myself inwardly cheering for her actions at times.

As in Chocolat, there are elements of magic here, which lend themselves wonderfully to the Paris setting, which is beautifully evoked within the novel.  The storyline which Harris has crafted is both absorbing and surprising.  Although the novel did tend to feel a touch drawn out at times, it was ultimately enjoyable, and I am looking forward to seeing how the trilogy ends.

Purchase from The Book Depository

2

Flash Reviews: Novels (3rd June 2014)

Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by Joanne Harris ****

‘Peaches for Monsieur le Cure’ by Joanne Harris

NB.: This is the last book in the Chocolat trilogy.

Storyline: The novel takes place in two locations – Paris, and Lansquenet, where Vianne Rocher and her family travel under the premise of a holiday.  A whole community of immigrants is living in once peaceful Lansquenet, and some of the villagers are not happy about their arrivals, or their creation of a new community which views itself as ‘separate’ from the main village.

1. Peaches for Monsieur le Cure follows on marvellously from The Lollipop Shoes, the second book in the trilogy, and marvellously recaptures the important details from the first two books.
2. The novel is told from two perspectives – Vianne’s, and that of the village’s cure, Monsieur Reynaud.  Harris writes naturally using both voices, and they are distinct from one another throughout, even where their stories converge.
3. Harris is skilled at spinning smaller stories around the central one.  Here, she has created a natural progression for her characters, and has also touched on many important issues in present day France.

Purchase from The Book Depository

 

Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse ****
NB.: I read this because my boyfriend and I went to see a Jeeves and Wooster play in London on his birthday, and wanted to see what Wodehouse’s work was like.
Storyline: Prize pig the Empress of Blandings has disappeared, and there are ‘suspects a-plenty’.

1. I was expecting an amusing and farcical comedy of manners, which is essentially what Summer Lightning is.  We meet many characters who find themselves in and around the estate of Blandings Castle, many of whom are rather privileged beings, and some of whom are rather annoying.
2. I found the whole silly and rather lighthearted, but it was certainly entertaining enough.
3. Wodehouse is the favourite author of my beloved Stephen Fry, which is surely reason enough to read one of his books.

Purchase from The Book Depository

 

The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier ****
Storyline: “Honor Harris is only 18 when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless – and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, Honor remains true to him, and finally discovers the secret of Menabilly.”

‘The King’s General’ by Daphne du Maurier (Virago)

1. I love du Maurier’s work, as she never fails to sweep me away into other places and periods. The King’s General is no different, and its vivid scenes and settings are so very memorable.
2. The historical setting which she has chosen here lends itself so well to her plot.  I love the way in which she has based her characters within The King’s General upon real beings.
3. The characters are all so well fleshed out, and du Maurier’s writing and choice of viewpoint is engaging on so many levels.

Purchase from The Book Depository

2

‘The Lollipop Shoes’ by Joanne Harris ****

I have been meaning to read The Lollipop Shoes ever since I finished Chocolat, and I am unsure as to why it has taken me about two and a half years to begin it.  I hoped that it wouldn’t be disappointing, as sequels so often seem to be.  I was a little skeptical, as the last couple of Joanne Harris books which I have read haven’t been as good as I was expecting either.  The premise of the novel is intriguing:

“Who died?” I said, “or is it a secret?”
“My mother, Vianne Rocher.”

Seeking refuge and anonymity in the cobbled streets of Montmartre, Yanne and her daughters, Rosette and Annie, live peacefully, if not happily, above their little chocolate shop.  Nothing unusual marks them out; no red sachets hang by the door.  The wind has stopped – at least for a while.  Then into their lives blows Zozie de l’Alba, the lady with the lollipop shoes, and everything begins to change…  But this new friendship is not what it seems.  Ruthless, devious and seductive, Zozie de l’Alba has plans of her own – plans that will shake their world to pieces.  And with everything she loves at stake, Yanne must face a difficult choice; to flee, as she has done so many times before, or to confront her most dangerous enemy…  herself.”

The book is told from the perspectives of Zozie, Yanne (the Vianne Rocher of Chocolat), and her daughter, Annie (Anouk).  Subsequent chapters are told in their voices, all of which are differentiated from one another.  This technique enables Harris to build up the whole seamlessly, allowing the reader to see the same event from different perspectives.

Zozie is an interesting character construct – she has taken over many identities in her life, choosing them from those who have passed away.  In this manner, she finds it easier to do such things as to open credit accounts and rent apartments in their names.  She dresses as she believes each individual would, and is therefore vividly colourful and rather quirky in her outfit choices.  Annie is a marvellous young protagonist, and is certainly my favourite character in the novel.  I even found myself inwardly cheering for her actions at times.

As in Chocolat, there are elements of magic here, which lend themselves wonderfully to the Paris setting, which is beautifully evoked within the novel.  The storyline which Harris has crafted is both absorbing and surprising.  Although the novel did tend to feel a touch drawn out at times, it was ultimately enjoyable, and I am looking forward to seeing how the trilogy ends.

Purchase from The Book Depository