July 25, 2012

The Lollipop Shoes - Joanne Harris

The thing about sequels is that as a reader you come to them with so many expectations - you want a story and characters that resonate with you the same way in which the first book did and you want them to taken further so that you feel you are getting even more of the story - an extension of what wasn't able to be given to you in the first book. You also want a sequel to carry on the tone and spirit of the initial story - you want to feel as though you are in the same world - with slight differences. These might be unrealistic expectations but they are there all the same. They are very much the expectations I had when I started reading The Lollipop Shoes, the sequel to Chocolat as part of our Paris in July event. Unfortunately, after finishing The Lollipop Shoes I didn't feel as though my sequel expectations had been met and I was left grieving for the magical feeling I had when I first read Chocolat. The risk of reading sequels!!
The Lollipop Shoes is set 5 years after Chocolat ends - Vianne (now known as Yanne), her eldest daughter Anouk (now know as Annie) and her youngest daughter Rosette are living in the Montmartre district of Paris again working in a chocolate shop but one that has none of the magic or distinctiveness of the shop Vianne had established in the village of Lansquenet. Yanne has worked hard to fade into the background, creating a "normal" life for her and her children, courting no magic or disruption. This seems like a reasonable wish for a mother of two young children but it does not feel true to the character of Vianne/Yanne at all - the spunky, vivacious woman from Chocolat has all but disappeared making the tone of the novel feel flat and hopeless. Harris has introduced a new character to try and balance this out, Zozie de l'Alba enters Yanne's live and brings the magic she is unable, or unwilling,  to rustle up herself at this time. Zozie is more than what she seems and her magic, while bringing new found success and prosperity to the chocolate shop, has its downsides in the way she uses it to play Anouk and create more of a division between mother and daughter bringing the book to its ultimate climax.
This book is much longer than Chocolat - although I didn't feel it needed to be this long the end part of the book was much more engaging that the beginning and middle sections. Some familiar characters from Chocolat arrive on the scene - but even they are not able to spark the book up for me. This was just a case of the sequel not hitting the mark, or coming close to being as wonderful as the book that inspired it. I was planning to read the third book in the series, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure but I think I will stop while I am slightly ahead and the magic and glow of Chocolat is still glowing...


John Michael Cummings said...

Dear Karen,

I'm an author with a new collection of YA short stories, Ugly To Start With (West Virginia University Press).

Will you please consider reviewing it?

I've been writing and publishing for twenty years--more than one hundred stories and two novels--and Ugly To Start With is my best work.

My first novel, The Night I Freed John Brown (Penguin), won The Paterson Prize for Fiction and was recommended by USA Today.

My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. "The Scratchboard Project" received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

If you write me back at johnmcummings@aol.com, I’ll send you a PDF of my collection for your consideration.

At this point, my small publisher is out of available review copies, so I hope and politely ask that you consider the PDF.

I would be very grateful.

Thank you so much.

John Michael Cummings

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

The dangers or sequels indeed! Was there really a need or did the mortgage really need to be paid? *sigh*

I also really liked Chocolate and Blackberry Wine, but then became a bit dissapointed with her books (Five Quarters of the Orange, Costliners)and never picked up one since. I'm waiting for one that seems to be unanimously great ;)

Paulita said...

Oh,I would so miss that magical feeling. Thanks for hosting Paris in July. For my last Saturday in July, I posted a photo from each of my trips to France. Here it is

Arti said...

How many books are there altogether in this series? If the second one sounds like this, I wonder how the rest of them would work. Thanks for this review and for hosting Paris in July. I've really enjoyed visiting everyone's posts.

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

Here's my first entry to Paris in July ~ a travel and book intro to a great French Quarter and author from Canada !
Bienvenue :)

Jeanie said...

Interesting -- I have Chocolat on my summer reading list and I suspect I would have "bit" at this one. Maybe not. The pile is very tall!

And again, thanks for co-hosting Paris in July -- I've discovered so many wonderful blogs during this time!

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

One of the main joys of reading book blogs is discovering new favourite books, a secondary one is when someone reviews a book you'd thought about reading and you decide not to read it. I love the title of this book but was unsure of reading it as I hadn't loved Five quarters of an orange. One book falls off a would like to read one day pile. Thank you and hope the next book you read is wonderful.

Unknown said...

I find that I have to be in a very specific mood for Joanne Harris full stop, though I do remember loving this one when I finally came around to it. I think the Paris feel just swung it for me. I am looking forward to the new one but I really will be careful to pick the right magical moment ;)

Kim said...

I love Chocolat but haven't read The Lollipop Shoes because I was been put off by some of the reviews I read.
I have, however, read Peaches for Monsieur le Cure and it is so good and didn't disappoint at all as part of the Chocolat series.
I don't think anything can substitute for the first encounter with a series of books and the feeling you have for the characters but Peaches definitely came very close to being as good as Chocolat for me.
Don't give up on it, I think you might like it.

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rommelxaine said...

Loved it!! But I am a big fan of her other books as well:)

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