three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
36-Sept-Oct-2008
user_rating: 
0

A-The Girl With No ShadowIn her anxiously awaited sequel to Chocolat (1999), Joanne Harris revisits the captivating Rocher family five years later. (The novel was published in the United Kingdom as The Lollipop Shoes.)

The Story: Five years after fleeing the sleepy village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, Vianne Rocher, determined to provide a stable life for her daughters Anouk and Rosette, has renounced her dual gifts for magic and confectionery and reinvented herself as the drab but respectable widow Yanne Charbonneau. Settling in Paris’s Montmartre, Vianne sells mass-produced chocolates from a small storefront while accepting the dreary attentions of her landlord Thierry. Twelve-year-old Anouk, now Annie Charbonneau, taunted by her schoolmates for being different, wrestles with her own budding gift for magic. When a mysterious young woman befriends the confused and unhappy Anouk, Vianne’s carefully crafted world threatens to fall apart.
William Morrow. 464 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0061431621

Christian Science Monitor 4 of 5 Stars
"Those who have only seen the movie version of Chocolat may find the sequel a less sugary confection than they expect. But then, there are plenty of us who love dark chocolate." Yvonne Zipp

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"Fans of Joanne Harris’ original fairy-tale novel (and the treacly 2000 Juliette Binoche film) will find a darker Chocolat in The Girl With No Shadow, but a far richer treat." Katharine Critchlow

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] sweetly enthralling sequel. … In Shadow, Harris serves up a darkly delightful novel that could as easily be sold in a confectionery as a bookstore." Caroll Memmott

New York Daily News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The fairy tale that Joanne Harris began years ago in Chocolat continues in The Girl With No Shadow, though the taste of this new novel is far more bittersweet. … The Girl is not anywhere near as seductively exuberant as Chocolat but its story is still enticing." Sherryl Connelly

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Although this slow-to-build sequel is less enchanting than its predecessor, Harris’ sensuous writing—a feast of bonbons and truffles—entertains." Bharti Kirchner

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The plot is complicated, and the cast of supporting characters extensive, but each one is a treat. … The magic of France, relationships built on truffles, and second sight are just as fascinating here. The narrative is somewhat uneven, though." Brigitte Weeks

Dallas Morning News 3 of 5 Stars
"The theme is good versus evil, though it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which. … There’s not a whole lot of suspense, but following the ins and outs of the book is still a pleasure." Anne Morris

Critical Summary

The Washington Post asks the leading question: "[Vianne and Anouk] were unforgettable characters. … Will readers be pleased or disappointed as [Joanne] Harris makes them grow and change?" At first, the novel doesn’t seem promising: Vianne renounces her magical powers and contemplates a marriage of convenience. Anouk starts school. The sleepy French village has been replaced by a 21st-century Parisian neighborhood. However, critics agree that the magic is still there. The characters and their relationships are seamlessly crafted, their lives skillfully interwoven. Harris’s prose is lush and laden with mouth-watering descriptions of Vianne’s homemade delights. Darker and denser than its predecessor, The Girl With No Shadow may take some readers by surprise, but most will revel in the return of the Rochers.

Also by the Author

A-ChocolatChocolat (1999): When Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk open a chocolate shop across the street from the local church in a quiet French village, they profoundly affect the villagers while inciting the ire of the parish priest.