Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Peaches for Father Francis-Joanne Harris

Peaches for Father Francis

Joanne Harris

Viking, Oct 2 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780670026364

Several years have passed since Vianne Rocher brought her magical sweetness to Lansquenet, France (see Chocolat). She now happily lives on a houseboat in Paris with her husband Roux and her daughters (Anouk and Rosette) with no plans to return to the village where the clergy condemned her and her confectionary delights.

However, her Lansquenet ally, Armande sends her a letter stating the villagers desperately need her magical sugary intervention. Now deceased, Armande offers no further explanation as she knew her friend would come. Vianne, accompanied by her children, arrives in Lansquenet where she learns her most fervent adversary Father Francis Reynaud needs her help as the Bishop has replaced him with a Microsoft priest. After publically arguing with the Imam of Les Marauds, Reynaud was accused of setting fire to a Muslim fundamentalist girls’ school established by Inès Bencharki, sister to the Imam’s son-in-law; ironically in Vianne's candy shop. Reynaud saved the Imam's granddaughter Alyssa from drowning and Vianne takes her into her temporary home. As the priest and the confectioner team up, people begin to die leading to deeper trouble between the two religions.

The latest Rocher tale (see The Girl with No Shadow) focuses on the fractured relationship between the long-time Christian residents and the new Muslim community. For the most part, the storyline lacks action as the plot centers on the conflict between the two religions until an incredible climax. Still fans will enjoy the Chocolat mage using her magic to foster more than just tolerance of others; she wants everyone to embrace each other as Vianne believes both cultures bring positives to a melting pot in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Harriet Klausner

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