Monday, November 28, 2011
Book Review: The Girl with No Shadow
The Girl with No Shadow (Harper Perennial) by Joanne Harris is a magical book. Literally. Its magic is in the form of witchery in three of the main characters. A sequel to Chocolat, the book’s main character, Yanne Charbonneau has changed her name from Vianne Rocher. Her daughter now nine, also has a different name, Anouk. Added is another younger daughter, Rosette, who is possibly autistic. The little French family has been forced to leave their former home and is starting over in Paris.
Yanne continues her vocation as a maker of exquisite chocolates. It’s a drab life she leads, but at least she and her daughters are safe. Her shop barely ekes out a living. If it weren’t for Thierry, her staid landlord, who has provided living quarters, she wouldn’t be able to care for her family.
Thierry asks Yanne to marry him and although she’s not in love with him, a solid family life is tempting. But she can’t bring herself to agree to marriage. Undaunted, he continues with plans to renovate one of his houses for them.
Along comes Zozie de l’Alba and we know from her first words that she is up to no good. Beautiful and charming, Zozie is an attraction to impressionable Anouk. Although for some time Anouk has realized she’s different from other kids, her exposure to Zozie helps her to define her special talent. She, too, is a witch.
Zozie manages to become part of the family, turns the chocolate shop into a bright, sunny place that draws customers in droves.
Just when Yanne least expects it, Roux appears from her past. Although he doesn’t know it, he is Rosette’s father. Even after four years, he stirs up feelings Yanne has tried unsuccessfully to bury.
Zozie’s true colors emerge. Pending danger and ruin become obvious. What tactic will she use this time to alter the lives of those who have trusted her?
If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll enjoy the many descriptions of making exotic confections. Joanne Harris uses an interesting technique to spin her tale in that the story is told in three voices, all in first person. It was a bit confusing at first, but I soon noticed each of the three had a unique symbol at the beginning of a chapter.
Though my reading pleasure is normally stories with realistic plots, Harris spins an intriguing yarn. The Girl with No Shadow is a fairy tale for grown-ups. The author’s knowledge of chocolate is impressive and the Paris setting extraordinary. Harris’s lyrical writing style is a joy and keeps the reader engaged.