Chocolate with a Very Hard Centre ; FICTION ++ the Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris DOUBLEDAY [Pound]17.99

By Lacey, Hester | The Independent on Sunday (London, England), May 27, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Chocolate with a Very Hard Centre ; FICTION ++ the Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris DOUBLEDAY [Pound]17.99


Lacey, Hester, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)


'It doesn't take much to raise the dead... I entered ashop as Francoise Lavery, in a grey twinset and a string of fake pearls. Ten minutes later, I left as someone else." Zozie de l'Alba, to be precise: vaguely foreign, flamboyant, loves bright colours, would never be seen dead in sensible shoes. Zozie is not only a shape- shifter, she is also a witch: as is Vianne Rocher, whom we first met when she was shaking up the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes in Joanne Harris's previous novel Chocolat. (It's certainly helpful, though not essential, to have read the story of the young woman who causes a provincial scandal by opening a high-class chocolaterie during Lent.)

The intervening years have not been kind to Vianne, who has reincarnated herself as Yanne Charbonneau, and is running a shabby chocolate shop in Montmartre, with the stuffing somehow knocked out of her. She has given up her "magic", decided to try and simply "fit in" and is fading dismally into the background. She is even considering a conventional marriage to a wealthy property developer (who, tellingly, doesn't much care for chocolate) to secure her fam- ily's future.

Yanne's daughter Annie, on the brink of adolescence, is developing witchy qualities of her own. Zozie is immediately drawn to her, and thus to her mother and younger sister, the mysteriously mute four-year-old Rosette, whose embryo instinct for the supernatural is already kicking in. Where VianneYanne used her insights and powers for good, however, Zozie has a completely different agenda. Her own mother told her: "Meddle ye not," but she says herself, "I was born to be a meddler," and meddle she does, with the worst of intentions.

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