Synopsis: 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…
Sometimes I think you need to be in a certain frame of mind to read a book. I started to read this a few weeks ago and couldn’t get into it (I was a bit preoccupied with life–related issues) so read an old faithful book instead. Second time around I devoured the whole thing in two sittings (broken only by having to go to work) and am very glad I went back to it. If you’ve read any of the Chocolat series you’ll know the whimsical style. The narrative is always written in such a lovely way, it’s a delight. This story focuses on Rosette who is left an orchard in the will of villager Narcisse and his family who want the land returned to them, saying Narcisse wasn’t in his right mind when he made the will.
Another part of the story is that of Reynaud who is given a manuscript from the deceased which he hopes will reveal why he is executor of the will, why Rosette has the land and why Narcisse’s father is a murderer! Very suspenseful. He seeks his own redemption while reading the book and I found myself really rooting for him to become the person he could have been. And finally we have Vianne’s story. Her daughters are growing up, Anouk has moved to Paris and she is fearful of losing Rosette. This fear is enhanced by the arrival of a new shop keeper to the town.
There are multiple viewpoints here. They’re not labelled so it took me a couple of chapters to start recognising the voices but they do all become apparent as separate characters very quickly. The chapters are short which I think helps with the speed of reading and always for me makes me want to keep reading as they’re so easy to digest. It’s a delightful book and I really enjoyed it.