Sequel to 'Chocolat' is a rich, dark confection
Joanne Harris's 'The Girl With No Shadow' picks up four years later as the sweet-toothed main character assumes a new identity – and struggles with an identity crisis.
As modern fairy tales go, it's hard to think of one more delicious than Joanne Harris's "Chocolat." Its sequel, "The Girl With No Shadow," turns out to be as dense and rich as a flourless cake. The novel was originally published in Britain as "The Lollipop Shoes" (Why are British titles so much better? And if it's a sequel to "Chocolat," wouldn't you want candy somewhere in the name?)
Four years after her twin talents with magic and confectionary set a small French village on its head, Vianne Rocher is now almost unrecognizable as a drab widow named Yanne Charbonneau who sells only store-bought chocolate. The shoes in question arrive on the feet of Zozie de l'Alba, a charming rover with a casual attitude toward other people's identities and bank accounts. Sensing possibilities, Zozie befriends Vianne's oldest daughter Anouk (renamed Annie), a lonely preteen baffled by her mother's sudden quest for respectability, and makes herself useful in the shop, where she shows an uncanny aptitude at Vianne's old game of knowing someone's favorite sweet. Harris switches the narration between the three female protagonists as Zozie's scheme slowly unfolds and the reasons behind Vianne's clutch for normalcy become clear. 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