Joanne Harris is the author of Sleep, Pale Sister, The Evil Seed, the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (now a major film starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp), Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of the Orange. She lives in Barnsley, Yorkshire, with her husband and small daughter.
The book in one sentence: A mysterious woman and her daughter sets up a decadent chocolatier at a sleepy French village in the month of Lent.
Who would you recommend it to: Chocoholics.
OK bits: The many passages dedicated to describing the damn decadent desserts. If reading that doesn’t make you feel like eating a block of chocolate, I don’t know what will!
Boring bits: The airy-fairy bits that I don’t quite understand. The kind which literary critics praise as beautiful prose and the kind which unliterary folks like me scratch their heads and think that just went right over my head.
Random review quote:
“This delicious, bewitching novel provides the antidote to all those late 20th century body shape obsessions; to all those tired and tiring Bridget Jones stereotypes. Here’s a story, written by a woman, that celebrates chocolate without guilt! … Harris unfolds a huge tale of life, love, death and bereavement, of fear and violence, of murder and bravery and – most important – happiness. The author’s joy in her creation is obvious and infectious” — Scotland on Sunday
Verdict: It isn’t the best chocolate brownie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, chopped nuts and a huge drizzle of chocolate sauce. It is akin to eating a very pleasant chocolate créme brulèe, and sometimes that is good enough.