REVIEW: Chocolat By Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris’ Chocolat made me realise there are many similarities between the main character, Vianne Rocher, and myself. 

We are both foreigners and we have found our lives transformed by making chocolates and other confections while our children were small.

Vianne’s story is universal, as is many of its themes – motherhood, identity, ethnicity, spirituality, prejudice, friendship and a foreigner’s search for a sense of belonging. 

When she arrives in Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes, a quaint town along the river Tannes, Vianne is running away from her past with her daughter Anouk beside her.

She is initially viewed with suspicion by the religiously conservative townspeople but eventually with a little good will and persistence, Vianne manages to break down some of the social barriers and misunderstanding that occur when cultures clash. 

The town priest Reynaud is symbolic of the hypocrisy of religion without human compassion.

Chocolat is a story of displaced peoples, of migrants, expats, persecution and prejudice, a world where food serves as a connector, and eventually a universal sign of friendship and welcome.

Vianne’s story resonates very much at the moment as Ukrainian women and children flee war and frustrations about illegal non-white immigration are debated in the media. 

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