by Joanne Harris
Sequel to Chocolat. Published in the UK as The Lollipop Shoes.
The genius behind the magical confections of Chocolat returns in a new story. Vianne, under the new name Yanne Charbonneau, has relocated to Montmartre with her two daughters. Once again, she is operating a chocolate shop, but this time the candies are ordinary, for Yanne has left her magical ways behind. Her daughter Anouk is disappointed and grows distant. Just as Yanne contemplates marrying their landlord to secure the family's safety, a free spirit named Zozie de l'Alba enters their lives. Zozie creates enchanted, magical chocolates that heal and entrance, just as Yanne's once did. However, there's a troubling undercurrent to Zozie's actions. She isn't just looking to imitate Yanne's life; Zozie wants to take it over and replace her entirely. Yanne must reconnect with her own magic if she wishes to keep her life intact.
The story is told by three narrators: Yanne, Anouk, and Zozie. The strong personalities of Anouk and Zozie come through clearly in the chapters from their perspectives, highlighting how withdrawn and lost Vianne has become in her new identity. It's quite enjoyable to read all three storytellers, as each character has a fresh and unique spin on events.
Anouk has grown into a clever girl, unhappy with her mother's new settled lifestyle in Paris. She's bullied at school, doesn't care for her mother's beau, and misses the adventures of her former life. When Zozie breezes into her life, whispering charming words and solving problems with little magic spells, Anouk is enthralled. The growing friendship between this mysterious woman and the girl beginning to bloom into adulthood, a relationship that Yanne finds increasingly threatening, was one of the most enjoyable parts of the story.
Joanne Harris' descriptions of food are as lush and mouth-watering as ever. It was impossible to read more than a chapter without longing for something to nibble. What I would give to eat one of Zozie de l'Alba's chocolates! They simply sound too good to be true...which, I suppose, is appropriate enough for this character.
The UK title for this book is The Lollipop Shoes, a name I find far superior to the one the US publisher went with. There's an undeniable magic to red shoes, as Hans Christian Andersen and movie costume designer Adrian proved. Zozie's eye-catching ruby heels become the symbol of everything Anouk desires that her mother has turned her back on.
After the development of the relationships between the three main female characters, the magical witch battle between Vianne and Zozie was...anticlimactic, somehow. I can't put my finger on what exactly disappointed me, but I wanted more. Was I disappointed with the outcome or did the battle itself simply lack a fire appropriate to the passions of the women involved?
Even so, I was delighted to return to the world of Vianne, Roux, and Anouk. Harris created such strong and memorable characters in Chocolat that I only wish that she would also return to Lansquenet
so we can peek in on some of her other creations.
3.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about The Girl with No Shadow, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: Taking a break until October 18th
2010: Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier
2009: The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby
2008: The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn