The compelling new novel from the author of the bestselling Chocolat.
Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.
But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…
‘There’s always a moment before a storm when the wind seems to change its mind. It plays at domesticity; it flirts with the blossom on the trees; it teases the rain from the dull grey clouds.’
Joanne Harris has an enchanting way with words; her vivid descriptions in the first instance allow me, as the reader, to feel as if I am in the moment and truly experiencing the characters’ world. ‘The Strawberry Thief’ is a mysterious novel that touches on the challenges of motherhood, what childhood should be and what it is to feel different in society.
I was very grateful to @booksontherail and @hachetteaus for providing me with this beautiful copy of ‘The Strawberry Thief’. Once I found out I had won the giveaway, I returned to the world of ‘Chocolat’, which I had only experienced on film. As you can see from my review prior to this one, I absolutely loved it. I was also very glad I read it prior to reading this novel, as there moments in the characters’ lives that are referred to in ‘Chocolat.’ If I had copies of books two and three in the series, I would have loved to read those too. In saying that, ‘The Strawberry Thief’ would definitely be a good stand alone read too.
Vianne Rocher is now settled in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes and is an accepted member of the local community. Vianne still owns the local Chocolatarie. Her daughter Anouk, has left home and is on her own adventure, whereas Vianne’s daughter Rosette is a child who prefers to sign and use sounds rather than speak and is happy to be in her own world. Rosette is my favourite narrator in the novel. When Narcisse, the town florist, passes away, he leaves Rosette his strawberry field. Narcisse’s biological children do not accept this and believe he must have been of unsound mind to make such a decision. Rosette’s narration is honest and she is always true to herself in the decisions she makes, along with how she lives her life. Seeing inside Rosette’s mind is beautiful. She has always loved being in the strawberry field and I loved the mystery and emotional story behind why it was left to her.
Reynaud, the priest, has opened his mind to the world, as a result of those around him who have challenged him, including Vianne when she moved to the town. His narration was intriguing and his character was much more likable than in Chocolat. In comparison, I did not enjoy Vianne’s narration as much. In this stage of her life Vianne is very scared of being alone and rather than her magic accompanying her zest for life, her use of magic is symbolic of her personality now; less care free and not as vibrant. This is a woman who is now challenged by motherhood in such a way that her mind is negatively impacted by her sheer need to hold her children close. In saying that, I love her relationship with members of the community and with Rosette. She still has the ability to calmly converse with those around her, whilst listening to her instincts.
After reading this beautifully written novel, I am looking forward to reading more of Joanne Harris’ novels. Her descriptions of chocolate and the processes of creating it have always interested me. To say that I love chocolate is an understatement. In particular, I enjoyed reading about Vianne’s process of scrying with chocolate ‘The hot dry reek of cigarettes has become the scent of burning leaves; the sweet and simle bonfire scent of autumn nights by the fireside.’
I would recommend this novel to those who enjoyed ‘Chocolat’ and if like me, you are a fan of chocolate, do not hesitate to read it.